EPA to Expand Chemical Right-to-Know Program and Provide Public with Better Health Data

[EPA press release - April 21, 1998]

Vice President Gore today announced a major expansion of EPA's chemical right-to-know program and directed the Agency to proceed with a new initiative that will improve the public's right-to-know about potentially harmful chemicals released into the air, land and water. The new initiative builds on EPA's existing Toxics Release Inventory, a program that has helped communities and industry work together to achieve significant reductions in pollution for more than a decade.

The new initiative will ensure the public's right to basic information about the hazards and risks of widely used chemicals that people, especially children, may be exposed to at home, at work or in the environment. Currently, for a vast majority of these chemicals, these data are either inadequate or not available.

A statement by EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner and a fact sheet summarizing the Vice President's initiative are attached.

Earth Day Right-to-Know Expansion Celebration

EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner
Washington, D.C.
April 21, 1998

Welcome. And thank you for joining us today for this Earth Week celebration. I am delighted to be here with Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, Fred Krupp - and particularly, it is my pleasure to be here with the Vice President. He is a true environmental leader, and the driving force behind all that this administration has done to protect public health and our environment.

On the eve of Earth Day - and on the first anniversary of the President's Executive Order to protect children's health from environmental threats - we have exciting news for the American people: today, the President and Vice President take three new important steps to guarantee the public's right to know about toxic chemicals in their communities.

The right to know is fundamental to all that this administration does to protect public health and the environment. The Clinton-Gore Administration believes that putting information into the hands of the American people is one of the best ways to keep our communities clean, safe, and healthy.

It is a basic right of every American to know what toxic chemicals are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and on the land upon which we live. That is why, time and time again, this administration has taken action to expand the right to know - to provide people with more information so they can take more steps to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.

Through EPA's Toxics Release Inventory, citizens across the country are learning about chemical releases in their neighborhoods. They are building partnerships - with each other, with industry, and government - to find common-see ways to reduce pollution in their communities. Since the program began in 1986, facilities reporting toxic releases have reduced emissions by almost half.

Under the President's and Vice President's leadership, we have doubled the number of chemicals that must be reported, we have increased the number and type of facilities that must report their chemical releases, and we increased the enforcement of the law - so that parents will have the information they need to protect their children from harmful chemicals in their environment.

We now require real estate developers and sellers to inform potential buyers and renters of lead hazards. No parent should have to learn after the purchase of a house, or after the signing of a lease, their home is not safe for their children.

We are providing the American people with the right to know about contaminants in their drinking water, and pesticides in their food.

And as the President has directed, we are continuing to explore how to provide more information to communities about the chemicals used at facilities - and how they might effect public health.

As the Vice President will announce, today we go even further to ensure the public's right to know - because knowing about pollution in our environment is a right - not a privilege, not a luxury - but a right for every American and every American community. We can do no less for the people of this country.

Thank you.

And now I would like to introduce a staunch ally of the environment, a public leader who understands that protecting the environment means protecting our health and our communities. She has led efforts to protect the citizens of the District of Columbia from toxic waste and unsafe drinking water...Representative Eleanor Homes Norton.