Bush upholds new EPA lead-reporting requirements


Tuesday, April 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Bush administration is upholding regulations issued in the last weeks of Bill Clinton's presidency requiring thousands more businesses to report their releases of toxic lead into the environment, administration officials said Tuesday.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said an announcement on the decision would be made Tuesday afternoon at the White House by the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Christie Whitman.

The new regulations, bitterly opposed by industry groups, will require any manufacturing or processing facility that emits at least 100 pounds of lead or lead compounds a year to report the releases to the government.

Current regulations require a facility to report any lead or lead compound emissions if the facility processes more than 25,000 pounds of them annually or uses 10,000 pounds a year.

EPA officials estimated the regulations would require at least 9,800 more industrial facilities to be included in the government's annual Toxics Release Inventory. The collection of data on toxic releases and their origins is made available to the public through several sources, including EPA's Internet site.

The regulations had been approved by EPA on Jan. 8 but were among dozens of new standards and rules issued in the last weeks of Clinton's presidency that Bush agreed to review upon taking office.

Lead exposure has been linked to developmental disorders and learning disabilities in children and high blood pressure and nervous disorders in adults.

An initial EPA proposal in 1999 called for lowering the threshold to the release of 10 pounds annually. That had been based on studies finding that lead persists indefinitely in ecosystems and also remains in human bone for more than 25 years.

Environmental groups welcomed Tuesday's pending announcement from an administration they have criticized for rolling back several other Clinton environmental decisions, including measures to reduce arsenic in drinking water and increase pollution bonds on hard-rock miners in the West.

``This is more of a case of Bush deciding he will not stand in the way of a real protection and trying to claim that's environmental leadership,'' said Allen Mattison of the Sierra Club.

Jeremiah Baumann of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a grass-roots environmental group, called the decision a ``first step,'' saying the administration will still have to ``vigorously defend against the lawsuits that have already been filed'' on the issue.