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E-M:/ E/M: NWF Sues Over Pulp and Paper Rules
- Subject: E-M:/ E/M: NWF Sues Over Pulp and Paper Rules
- From: TIM EDER <EDER@nwf.org>
- Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 07:03:31 -0400
- List-Name: Enviro-Mich
- Reply-To: TIM EDER <EDER@nwf.org>
Enviro-Mich message from TIM EDER <EDER@nwf.org>
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contacts:
Neil Kagan (734)769-3351
Laura Rose Day (734)769-3351
Carrie Schluter (703)790-4000
NWF's SUES TO CHALLENGE EPA CHLORINE RULES
Status Quo Approach Threatens People And Wildlife
Conservation groups are suing to demand that the U. S.
Environmental Protection Agency tighten newly published
regulations for limiting pulp and paper industry discharges of
chemicals that threaten the health of people and wildlife.
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF), its state affiliate, The
Natural Resources Council of Maine, the Natural Resources
Defense Council, the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Coalition, the
American Canoe Association, and the Penobscot Nation,
charge that EPA's selection of the most lenient of three
available approaches to reducing toxic by-products of the
paper bleaching process violates the Clean Water Act by not
adopting the "best available technology" as the law requires.
"EPA has a legal and moral obligation to protect people and
the environment from the dangers of these chemicals," said
NWF President Mark Van Putten. "It does not have the
option of staying with the status quo simply because the
industry prefers it."
The "status quo" amounts to extensive use of bleaching
processes involving chlorine, which creates dioxin and other
toxic by-products. EPA's recently-published "cluster rule"
seeks to reduce toxic outputs incrementally, but it locks the
U.S. pulp and paper industry into a chlorine-based process at
a time that foreign mills are adopting more cost-efficient and
environmentally sound technologies.
By incorporating a process known as oxygen delignification,
the second option would have dramatically reduced the
pollutants released into waterways by pulp and paper plants,
and it would have taken the industry one step closer to
Totally Chlorine Free technology, which is the environmental
best-case scenario. "By failing to approve the better
technological option, the agency has permitted the ongoing
contamination of our treaty-protected natural resources," said
John Banks, Director of Natural Resources for the Penobscot
"The arbitrary nature of this decision is especially troubling in
light of the proven health impacts of dioxins and related toxic
pollutants on people and wildlife," said Van Putten.
According to EPA's own draft assessment, human health
threats linked to the chemicals in question include increased
rates of cancer, reproductive abnormalities, impaired immune
systems, and learning and behavioral disorders. Children are
most vulnerable, as they can become exposed in utero and
while nursing when their bodily systems are in delicate
stages of development. Serious health effects have also been
observed in mammals, birds, and fish, including birds with
crossed bills, fish with tumors, eggshell thinning, and other
"Industry claims that the costs of addressing these threats
will force plant closings and job losses are nothing but
fear-mongering," said NWF attorney Neil Kagan. "Yes, there
will be some up-front investment in doing the right thing, but
over time the environmentally preferable option will cost the
industry less. And can you even put a price on reducing the
harm to people and wildlife?"
EPA's own analysis shows that more than 90% of existing
mills could afford to implement the oxygen delignification
"EPA's decision might even harm companies in the long run
by encouraging an investment in antiquated technology," said
NRDC Senior Attorney Jessica Landman. "It actually creates
a disincentive to work toward the Clean Water Act goal of
zero discharge. We intend to make sure that the industry
invests in newer technology to protect people and wildlife."
The National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Council
of Maine, Natural Resources Defense Council, Clark
Fork-Pend Oreille Coalition, Penobscot Nation, and the
American Canoe Association will continue to address this
serious public health threat and fight for a solution that
protects our families and wildlife and ensures a viable
American paper industry.
The nation's largest member-supported conservation
education and advocacy 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.
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