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E-M:/ Mercury: Bush Administration Remains Contradictory on Mercury



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Enviro-Mich message from "Anne M. Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>
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Subject: Mercury: Bush Administration Remains Contradictory on Mercury

For Immediate Release
March 19, 2004

Contact:
Wendy Balazik, 202-675-2383

BUSH ADMINISTRATION REMAINS CONTRADICTORY ON MERCURY
Finalizes New Consumer Warnings on Mercury-Contaminated Fish

Washington, DC: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) today finalized new, stepped up warnings about
mercury contamination in fish, inexplicably while the Bush
administration
continued pushing for a mercury rule that would make it easier for
polluters to avoid cleaning up mercury.

Earlier this week, EPA staffers also said they were told not to perform
the
usual rigorous scientific testing for the Bush administration's proposed
mercury rule -- instead, language for the rule came straight from the
polluting energy industry.

Meanwhile, today's action by the FDA and EPA expanded warnings about the
number of fish species with unsafe levels of mercury and the list of
people
who are most at risk from mercury -- adding children, nursing mothers
and
women who may become pregnant.

"It's time for the Bush administration to enforce clean air laws that
are
on the books and require power plants to implement technology to limit
this
dangerous poison," said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra
Club.
"The EPA is now ignoring science because the Bush administration's
polluting campaign donors don't like what science has to say."

Longtime EPA staff charge the Bush administration has ordered them to
scrap
the usual scientific and economic studies.  Instead, the EPA proposed a
new
mercury plan that copies language from a report written by West
Associates,
an industry organization representing 23 large Western utility
companies.
In March 2003, West Associates presented the EPA with recommendations
about
mercury regulations and described the results of an analysis of possible
mercury emission reduction scenarios. This all ended up in the Bush
administration's final proposal.

In 2001, the EPA estimated that a 90 percent reduction in mercury
pollution
from power plants by 2008 is achievable. But the Bush administration's
current proposal allows far more mercury for decades longer than
enforcement of the Clean Air Act would allow.

Mercury is a powerful toxin that causes learning and developmental
disabilities in children and developing fetuses.  Forty-five states and
territories have warned the public to limit consumption of fish from
mercury-contaminated lakes and rivers. Coal-fired power plants account
for
more than a third of mercury emissions and are responsible for "hot
spot"
areas where mercury concentrations are significantly higher.

# # #

Wendy Balazik
Media Coordinator
Sierra Club
Phone:  202-675-2383
Fax:  202-547-6009




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