Earmarks We Can Believe In: Making Companies Better Report Their Toxic Releases
Photo via the Huffington Post
Obama signed another massive spending bill yesterday; a $419 billion Federal Omnibus bill. But this time, it wasn't the spending that had everyone riled up. This time, it was the earmarks. Yes, the pundits, political opposition, and of course, John McCain, all seized on the fact that Obama was signing a bill that included over 8,000 "pork barrel projects." And while it's true that earmark reform was a part of Obama's campaign platform, this bill actually offers an example of how good pork can be: it passed an important rule that makes companies report more of the toxic chemicals they release into the environment.The new rule toughens the reporting requirements for toxic chemicals released by industry, according to the Washington Post, and is effective immediately. It's yet another case of—and everyone should be getting used to this refrain by now, sing it with me . . . Reversing the Bush Administration's Position! Ahem. Sorry—it's just that these delightful reversals keep coming week after week.
This particular case reverses a controversial Bush regulation "that eased the reporting requirements for nearly 600 chemicals, including arsenic, benzene and cadmium." Now, oil refineries and auto, chemical and electric manufacturers will have to report any chemical releases that total 500 pounds of emissions a year or more—under Bush, it was 2,000.
So why is this such good news? Simple. We'll have a better idea of what pollutants are in our air, and where air quality stands to be compromised in the future, so action can be taken. As the WaPo puts it, the rule "is important because the registry gives companies an incentive to reduce toxic emissions and helps communities mobilize for better air, water and soil quality."
Too bad John McCain wasn't in office to make the devious back alley politician who authored this pork barrel project "famous," so that we'd "know his name." Because I would like to know where to direct a nice pat on the back.