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Highlights

A 1994 Executive Order sought to ensure that minority and low-income populations are not subjected to disproportionately high and adverse health or environ-mental effects from agency activities. In a July 2005 report, GAO made several recommendations to improve the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) adherence to these environmental justice principles. The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA) requires certain facilities that use toxic chemicals to report their releases to EPA, which makes the information available in the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). Since 1995, facilities may submit a brief statement (Form A) in lieu of the more detailed Form R if releases of a chemical do not exceed 500 pounds a year. In January 2007, EPA finalized the TRI Burden Reduction Rule, quadrupling to 2,000 pounds what facilities can release before having to disclose details using Form R. Congress is considering codifying the Executive Order and requiring EPA to implement GAO's environ-mental justice recommendations. Other legislation would amend EPCRA to, among other things, revert the Form A threshold to 500 pounds or less. In this testimony, GAO discusses (1) EPA's response to GAO's environmental justice recommendations, (2) the extent to which EPA followed internal guidelines when developing the TRI rule and (3) the impact of the rule on communities and facilities.

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