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E-M:/ NWF sues EPA July 1

Enviro-Mich message from "ANITA M. KRAEMER" <KRAEMER@nwf.org>

Cameron Davis, davisc@nwf.org
Anita Kraemer, kraemer@nwf.org
NWF (313) 769-3351


Washington, July 1 -- Six Great Lakes states have failed to protect the Great Lakes from poisonous pollution, according to a lawsuit filed today by the nation*s largest conservation organization.

The Great Lakes Initiative, required by Congress under the Clean Water Act, is a set of uniform water quality standards designed to protect the health of the people, fish, and wildlife of the Great Lakes basin from toxic pollutants. As of today, only Indiana and Wisconsin have adopted the new standards. The remaining six states -- Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania -- have yet to adopt standards and to submit the new standards to EPA for approval. 

The law required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement the Great Lakes Initiative in any state that failed to adopt the standards by March 23, 1997, but the National Wildlife Federation is charging in U.S. District Court that the EPA has failed to do so in the six delinquent states.  It asks the court to order EPA to implement the Initiative immediately in those states until they adopt standards approved by the EPA.

*The people of the Great Lakes region have waited since 1990 for promised uniform, tough water quality standards to protect them from poisonous pollutants,* said Wayne A. Schmidt, Director of the National Wildlife Federation*s Great Lakes Natural Resource Center in Ann Arbor, MI. *Congress set a deadline of March 23, 1997 for the Great Lakes Initiative to be in place, and it*s not. That*s why this lawsuit is necessary.* At least two states -- Michigan and Ohio -- are close to having their state rules adopted and might avoid a court-ordered program if they move quickly. *This suit is not intended to derail the states* progress, but to ensure that our families get the protection they deserve from toxic pollutants--sooner rather than later,* said Schmidt.
*Last week a new report from the Environmental Information Center found that industries in the Great Lakes region lead the nation in the release of toxic pollutants that interfere with sex hormones and contribute to breast and prostate cancer, birth defects, learning problems and hurt our immune systems,* said Schmidt. *EPA wants to wait, but we want action -- through the adoption of the Initiative --  to reduce these pollutant releases and protect the health of our families and children.* 

*The Initiative is critical because it provides the best protection to date from the toxic pollutants that pose the biggest threat to the health of our families in the Great Lakes region,* said Schmidt.  Among the pollutants addressed by the Initiative are PCBs, dioxin, and mercury -- toxics that are known to cause cancer, kidney and liver poisoning, respiratory problems, nerve damage, or developmental disorders. 

Many of these chemicals, such as dioxin and mercury, are also suspected of causing what emerging scientific studies call *endocrine disruption,* the ability of substances to mimic hormones and wreak havoc on reproductive systems. *These toxics are of greatest concern for young children and women of child-bearing age. Their effects can last a lifetime and can be passed from parents to their children,* said Schmidt.

Dioxin comes from a variety of sources, including pulp and paper manufacturing plants. With the world*s largest concentration of pulp and paper companies in the Great Lakes region, the Initiative*s protections are crucial in the Great Lakes. Mercury comes from many sources including sewage treatment plants, electric power plants, and incinerators.

The nation's largest member-supported conservation group, the National Wildlife Federation unites people from all walks of life to protect nature, wildlife, and the world we all share.  The Federation has educated and inspired families to uphold America's conservation tradition since 1936.  Its common-sense approach to environmental protection brings individuals, organizations, and governments together to ensure a brighter future for people and wildlife.

For more information on Great Lakes water quality issues, check out the NWF Great Lakes Natural Resource Center web site:

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