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E-M:/ Bush Administration Hides Reports on Mercury Risks



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Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>
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E-M:

Some of you may have seen the Wall Street Journal article today regarding a
deep sixed EPA report on mercury (the website demands money for access, so I
can't post the link here).  Below is Sierra Club's response to the Bush
administration's newest version of "don't ask, don't tell" regarding the
environment.  In Michigan, according to the Environmental Working Group
website http://www.ewg.org/pub/home/reports/brainfood/plants/MI.html in 1999
Michigan coal fired plants produced 2,693 lbs of mercury, or 3.1% of the
national total.  Because mercury issues have been SO well exposed by
environmental groups in Michigan I won't go into the effects -- but be clear
that the "effect" of the Bush administration is to keep people in Michigan
and elsewhere from KNOWING the truth about this toxic, bioaccumulative
pollutant.

AW

_______________________________________
For Immediate Release:
February 20, 2003

Contact: David Willett, 202-675-6698


            Bush Administration Hides Reports on Mercury Risks
            While Simultaneously Weakening Mercury Protections


Washington, DC:  The Sierra Club today called on the Bush Administration to
immediately release a long-delayed report on the health risks children face
from toxic mercury spewing from coal power plants.  The Wall Street
Journal's John Fialka today reported the Bush Administration for nine
months has delayed releasing an EPA report "warning that emissions of
mercury by coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources poses an
increasing health danger to young children."  (Fialka, Mercury Threat to
Kids Rising, Unreleased EPA Report Warns, Wall St. Journal, 2/20/03)

The hold-up of information comes at a time when the Administration is
simultaneously trying to weaken the Clean Air Act.  The Bush
Administration's so-called "Clear Skies" proposal would allow 200 percent
more toxic mercury into the air than under the existing Clean Air Act.

"Why is the Bush Administration sitting on news about the dangers of
mercury from coal power plants?" asked Carl Pope, Executive Director of the
Sierra Club.  "Americans have sensible solutions to cut our use of coal and
the toxic mercury that comes with it.  The Bush Administration should be
promoting real clean air protections instead of hiding information and
weakening the Clean Air Act."

The EPA's hidden report warns mercury can cause mental retardation in
babies.  When coal is burned at power plants, mercury is released into the
air and eventually falls back to earth through rain.  The mercury then
seeps into rivers, streams and lakes and can be absorbed by wildlife and
humans where the toxin can cause serious damage to the nervous system.
Many regions across the country warn pregnant women to avoid eating local
fish because of high levels of mercury, which they can pass on to their to
babies.  According to the Wall St. Journal, the new EPA report also spells
out the increased risk to children because they play outside and eat and
drink more for their size.

The Bush Administration's so-called "Clear Skies" initiative will weaken
clean air safeguards protecting people from mercury and other pollutants.
The Bush plan will result in 200 percent more toxic mercury than would be
allowed under strong enforcement of existing clean air laws.   Maintaining
the Clean Air Act, strengthening enforcement, and promoting alternatives to
coal power like wind and solar power would go much farther towards reducing
mercury in our environment.  The Administration should support the efforts
of Sen. Jeffords (I-VT), Sen. Collins (R-ME), and Sen. Lieberman (D-CT),
whose recently reintroduced Clean Power Act moves the nation in the right
direction, strongly curbing mercury and other pollution from power plants.

"Americans need our government to come clean about mercury pollution in our
air and water," Pope said.  "If the government knows coal-fired power
plants can lead to babies with mental retardation, why isn't the President
doing everything possible to protect those kids?  Even the Administration
admits the President's plan only cleans up part of the mercury, but
Americans can do better than that.  By using energy-efficient technologies
and renewable power, we can clean up all of the mercury, and protect our
babies from the brain damage mercury causes."



David Willett
Associate Press Secretary
Sierra Club
(202) 675-6698
david.willett@sierraclub.org




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