Too many corporations are hiding environmental liabilities from their shareowners, according to the Rose Foundation, an Oakland-based environmental advocate. Corporate underreporting persists due to a lack of will to fix the problem, says the foundation.

"You could drive a truckload of toxic waste through gaps in SEC environmental disclosure regulations,” says Tim Little, executive director and co-founder of the Rose Foundation. The group has petitioned the SEC to close the loopholes, according to

To bolster its case, Rose cites a 1998 unpublished study by the EPA that found 74 percent of companies underreporting their environmental liabilities.

Rose also unearthed a 1992 Price Waterhouse (now Pricewaterhouse Coopers) study of 523 companies that found 62 percent had known environmental liabilities that went unrecorded in financial statements in a quantitative manner.