The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin reports that a “little-noticed” provision in the spending bill signed into law this week will reverse the Bush administration’s loosening of Toxics Release Inventory reporting requirements. (Check out our past posts on the watered-down requirements and the TRI’s importance for background.)

The TRI is important because it lets community members, lawmakers, government agencies, journalists, and researchers learn about the amount and type of toxic chemicals being released by thousands of facilities across the country. Corporations that manufacture, process, or use significant amounts of toxic chemicals are required to report annually on their releases of these substances.

In 2006, EPA raised the level at which facilities have to start reporting their releases from 500 pounds annually to 2,000 pounds annually. In a 2007 report on the rule change, the Government Accountability Office calculated that 3,500 facilities would no longer have to report detailed information about their releases, and communities would lose access to nearly 22,000 of the nearly 90,000 reports they had previously been able to view.

New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg – who, Eilperin notes, authored the law that established the TRI in 1986 – was responsible for the budget-bill provision reinstating the stronger TRI reporting requirements.