Peter O'Connor, associate general counsel and director, environment and government affairs for AngloGold North America Inc., told a House subcommittee "this distortion of congressional intent" has occurred because EPA "continues to treat naturally occurring metals and metal compounds in dirt and rock that are moved and deposited at a mine site the same as releases of man-made chemicals from an industrial plant."He
testified on behalf of NMA
in an oversight hearing on TRI and its impact on federal minerals and energy.
"That approach," O'Connor
said, "leads to enormous reported numbers that give the public an inaccurate and misleading picture of chemical releases in their community.It also discourages recycling and pollution prevention at mine sites." O'Connor
said the public and industry "deserve a better reporting program.The courts have recognized that naturally occurring chemicals in dirt and rock are not the same as releases of man-made chemicals.These court decisions have imposed some rationality on how TRI relates to mining.EPA
needs to conform its regulations and policies to those court decisions without further delay," he
and industry must work together to provide the public with accurate and understandable information.This information should include specifics on how these chemicals are managed.In this way, the public (as well as EPA) would have meaningful information about the true level of releases in their communities.Additionally, in the unlikely event of a release that may be of concern, the release would be more readily understood and steps could be taken to minimize it."
In the end, EPA's
TRI program "unfortunately stands out as the one that provides the public with a highly distorted picture of the mining industry," O'Connor