New rules from the EPA thousands of companies
will no longer have to publicly disclose when they release toxic chemicals.
Some companies were required to report the release of 500 pounds or more of
certain chemicals. The new rule raises the reporting requirement to 2000
The Environmental Protection Agency lets companies release toxic chemicals
into the environment. But they’re supposed to file detailed reports on the
kinds of chemicals they release. Mark Brush reports – under a new EPA rule,
some of these companies will no
longer have to tell us how much they pollute:
The Environmental Protection Agency lets companies release toxic chemicals into the
environment. But they’re supposed to file detailed reports on the kinds of
release. Mark Brush reports – under a new EPA rule, some of these companies will no
longer have to tell us how much they pollute:
If you want to know what kind of pollution is released near your neighborhood – you
type in your zip code on the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory website.
In the past, companies had to report if they released more than 500 pounds of a
kind of toxic chemical. But now, some companies won’t have to report unless they
release 2000 pounds or more.
Tom Natan is with the National Environmental Trust. His group analyzed the new
They found that around 3,600 companies will no longer have to provide their neighbors
with detailed information:
“And if I were living nearby, I would want to know that these chemicals were being
released in these amounts from that facility. If you don’t necessarily know that
being exposed then there isn’t anything you as a citizen can do about it.”
The EPA says these new rules will ease some regulatory burdens on industry. Congress
is expected to take a closer look at the new rule in its next session.
Magazine publishers and other companies are thinking ahead and getting their paper from forests that have been certified. But what does this really mean? (Photo by Stanley Elliott)
Officials in the Midwest want to prove they’re not damaging their state forests. States that sell timber to paper companies are spending thousands of dollars to earn a certificate that says they’re managing the forests in a sustainable way. Paper producers are demanding that state foresters earn certification because officials want to stave off protests from consumers. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Celeste Headlee reports:
Officials in the Midwest want to prove they’re not damaging their state forests. States that sell timber to paper companies are spending thousand of dollars to earn a certificate that says they’re managing the forests in a sustainable way. Paper producers are demanding that state foresters earn certification because officials want to stave off protests from consumers. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Celeste Headlee reports:
It’s lunchtime and employees on break from Compuware in downtown Detroit are browisng through the magazine racks at Borders. Melody Kranz says she reads three different magazines every month. She says she is an avid recycler and an impassioned environmentalist, but never considered what kind of paper was going into her magazines.
“I don’t know why I haven’t thought about it, I just haven’t. I will now. Because I’m a gardening nut, I love to garden. So yeah, I just never really thought about it.”
But executive David Refkin is betting that Franz and others like her would think twice before picking up Time Magazine if they thought a forest was demolished to make the paper. Refkin is the Director of Sustainable Development for Time Incorporated. He says he’s noticed a strong surge in environmental awareness over the past two or three years.
“We don’t want people looking at a magazine and feeling guilty that a stream has been damaged and the fish are dying in there, or that habitats aren’t being protected because people are practicing bad forestry practices.”
Refkin says his company wants to take action now, before consumer groups decide to boycott its magazines over ecological issues. Time uses more coated paper for its publications than any other company in the U.S. The company is asking that 80 percent of all paper products Time buys be certified by 2006.
To the average consumer, that may not seem like big news. But for paper producers and foresters, it’s earth shattering. Larry Pedersen is with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Pedersen says getting certified means years of work for state employees. The government has to prove to investigators that its management standards take into account issues such as biodiversity, water quality, soil erosion and wildlife habitat. Pedersen says the state is also required to provide records for each tree from the moments it’s planted or inventoried to the time it’s cut down and then made into planks or paper. But he says it’s worth the effort.
“A number of wood and paper-using companies brought it to our attention that they needed to have certified products because their consumers were demanding those. And with us having four-million acres of state forestlands, we saw the writing on the wall that we needed to jump on this.”
State forests in the region generate a lot of revenue. Wisconsin’s forests earn two and a half million dollars from timber sales and Ohio pulls in almost three million. Michigan’s forests bring in 30 million dollars annually. Earlier this year, Michigan’s Governor Jennifer Granholm announced that all state forests will be certified by January 1st of 2006. And the Great Lakes State is not alone… New York, Wisconsin, and Maine are also pursuing certification and Ohio and other states are considering it.
Andrew Shalit, with the environmental activist group Ecopledge, says he’s glad Time Warner is encouraging paper companies and state governments to get certified. But he says that doesn’t necessarily mean the paper is produced in an environmentally friendly way.
“It’s great to say that they’re going to get all of their paper from certified forests. The question is, who is certifying? And in the case of Time Warner, a lot of the forests are certified by a group called SFI, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and their standards are so weak as to be almost meaningless.”
There’s a heated debate over just what certification means. There are currently two groups that certify forests in the U.S. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative, or SFI, was originally founded by the timber industry but is now an independent body. The Forest Stewardship council, or FSC, came out of the environmental movement… or more specifically, out of the effort to protect South American rainforests. Shalit says he doesn’t think SFI certification is as rigorous or as comprehensive as FSC.
“It really is a problem for the consumer because you see something in the store and it has a little green label on it with a picture of a tree and it says sustainably certified, and you think you’re buying something good. It’s hard for the individual consumer to keep up with that.”
Shalit says several states, like Michigan, have solved the dilemma of rival certification programs by getting dual certification. he says although the system has flaws, it will improve if consumers demand more stringent forestry regulations.
Executives at Time Warner hope they can avoid boycotts and pickets by taking action preemptively. The company is leading the push for forest certification in the U.S., and environmentalists say the federal government may have to bow to pressure eventually and get the national forests certified as well.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Celeste Headlee.
A study by an auto analysis firm says that sales of sport utility vehicles are beginning to slow down. That’s because consumers are demanding more cars and car-like SUVs. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Bill Poorman reports:
A study by an auto analysis firm says that sales of sport utility vehicles are beginning to
slow down. That’s because consumers are demanding more cars and car-like SUVs. The
Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Bill Poorman reports:
The report from J.D. Power and Associates says inventories of SUVs are building up on
dealer lots, prices of SUVs are falling, and sales incentives are rising. The biggest
decline is taking place among the largest and least fuel efficient SUVs. Tom Libby with
J.D. Power says more people are demanding vehicles that look like SUVs, but are built
more like cars. He calls these crossovers.
“In the second quarter of 2004, crossovers actually reached 40 percent of all SUVs, and
that was a record. So we’re approaching the point where crossovers will be every other
And in certain cases, crossovers have better fuel efficiency than comparable traditional
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Bill Poorman.