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TRI Data Show Improved Environmental Performance by Manufacturing Sector as Economy Grows

TRI Shows Significant Decreases in Air Emissions of Toxics Among Electric Utilities Across the Southeast

03/05/2019
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ATLANTA (March 5, 2019) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 2017 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis. Results of this publicly available database show that since 2007, releases of TRI chemicals in the U.S. manufacturing sector have declined while the economy has grown. Industrial facilities have reduced releases of TRI chemicals by taking action to prevent pollution. In the southeast, the total quantities of TRI chemicals released to air decreased by 63 percent from 2007 to 2017 and 4 percent since 2016.

Electric utilities have been the major driver of this trend, with 229 million fewer pounds of air releases in 2017 than 2007 (a 90% reduction). Specifically, electric utilities in all eight southeast states in EPA Region 4 had decreases in air releases of TRI chemicals from 2007 to 2017 of 72 percent or more: Georgia (97%), North Carolina (96%), Alabama (92%), Florida (88%), South Carolina (93%), Tennessee (84%), Kentucky (81%) and Mississippi (72%). In addition to electric utilities, facilities in almost every other sector subject to TRI reporting in the southeast reduced their air releases since 2007.

“By communicating TRI data in a clear and consistent manner, EPA is utilizing the power of transparency to notify the public of important public health information and simultaneously encourage industry to improve environmental outcomes,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The latest TRI analysis confirms that under President Trump the U.S. continues to improve its air quality while growing its economy.”

“The TRI helps citizens make informed decisions and incentivizes companies to continually look for opportunities to reduce pollution. In the southeast, the downward trend in TRI chemical air releases shows that pollution prevention practices are a priority and contribute to reducing overall releases,” said EPA Acting Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker.

“This year’s TRI results give proof that economic growth and an improved environment can go hand in hand. For over 30 years, TRI has given the public the right-to-know about chemical releases in their neighborhoods and showed what companies are doing to reduce and prevent those releases. That commitment continues. Our focus today is making the TRI website more accessible, interactive and engaging to the public,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn.

“The Southeast Region Toxic Release Inventory showing a downward trend in emissions in all eight states is a testament to the installation of pollution controls and the use of natural gas for the production of electricity has benefitted all citizens. I applaud the cooperation of electric utilities for their partnership to increase health benefits for all,” said Catawba County, North Carolina Commissioner Kitty Barnes.

This year’s National Analysis increases the transparency of the TRI database. New features include a new graphic on innovative use of green chemistry by industry, profiles of the paints and coatings manufacturing and other sectors, and an expanded illustration of the role of TRI data in chemical risk evaluations.

The Analysis showcases industry practices to manage waste and reduce pollution at nearly 22,000 facilities that submitted TRI data for calendar year 2017. EPA encourages facilities to learn from their counterparts’ best practices and adopt additional methods for reducing pollution.

In addition, today EPA is holding virtual press conferences in all 10 EPA Regions to highlight regional trends and engage with local communities. EPA Administrator Wheeler joined EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez in New York City to discuss this year’s data and analysis.

2017 Highlights

  • Air releases of TRI chemicals declined by 11 million pounds in 2017, driven by reductions in air releases at chemical manufacturing facilities. Since 2007, air releases of TRI-listed chemicals fell 57 percent at industrial facilities submitting data to the program. Electric utilities are responsible for the greatest decreases in air releases since 2007, but nearly all industrial sectors have reduced their air releases over that time.
  • 87 percent of the nearly 31 billion pounds of TRI chemical waste was prevented from being released into the environment due to practices such as recycling, energy recovery, and treatment.
  • Industrial facilities also reported implementing nearly 4,000 new source reduction activities that eliminated or reduced the creation of chemical waste.

Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), covered facilities must report their annual releases of TRI chemicals for the prior calendar year to EPA by July 1. EPA, states and tribes receive TRI data from facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, mining, electric utilities and commercial hazardous waste management. The Pollution Prevention Act also requires facilities to submit information on pollution prevention and other waste management activities of TRI chemicals.

To access the 2017 TRI National Analysis, including local data and analyses, visit www.epa.gov/trinationalanalysis

Information on facility efforts to reduce TRI chemical releases is available at www.epa.gov/tri/p2

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