Could a little transparency help curb pollution?

On Wednesday, the EPA released a new interactive map letting people check out the biggest stationary sources of global-warming emissions in their area. It’s a nifty tool. But could it actually lead to less pollution? Quite possibly, yes, if the past is any guide.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Gina McCarthy, the EPA’s assistant administrator for air and radiation, compared the new greenhouse-gas reporting law to the agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), a database that was passed by Congress back in 1986 to measure and publicize the release of more than 320 toxic chemicals from industrial facilities around the country. “[The TRI] had a tremendous impact in terms of providing opportunities for reduction, and we’re really hoping this information will do the same,” McCarthy said. And, in fact, a variety of analyses suggest she might be onto something.