Who’s Counting

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releases the results of the annual Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) each summer. The TRI has proved to be a powerful tool for raising consciousness about sources of toxic pollution and encouraging companies to act voluntarily to reduce their emissions. The official TRI, however, tells only part of the story because it dramatically underestimates the amount of toxic pollution from the petrochemical industry. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has conducted studies which demonstrate the extent to which emissions of toxic chemicals from petrochemical facilities in Texas are underreported. This report applies the TCEQ’s findings nationwide and reveals that emissions of toxic chemicals, including known carcinogens such as benzene and butadiene, are four to five times higher than is reflected in the TRI.