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E-M:/ Bad persistent pollutant bill still making its way through Congress



Title: Bad persistent pollutant bill still making its way thr
Hi all,

Below find a letter from 64 organizations across the nation urging the House Energy & Commerce Committee legislators to fight against the awful Gillmor bill - which would weaken an already dysfunctional Toxic Substances Control Act, our nation's law that regulates industrial chemicals.

The Gillmor bill (H.R. 4591) would also, in ratifying the Stockholm Convention on persistent toxic chemicals, "abandon the treaty's fundamental health protection goal, introduce a standard that will weaken U.S. environmental and health safeguards, and create regulatory hurdles that would make it practically impossible for EPA to ever protect Americans from some of the world's most dangerous chemicals."
"The Gillmor bill would not only make it difficult for EPA to regulate a newly listed POP
chemical, but would also preempt state and local POPs regulations and prevent states from taking regulatory action in the future. This sweeping preemption language could void state and local measures to control POPs even when the EPA ultimately fails to regulate the chemical."

The 64 groups on this letter are part of a growing chorus of American voices -- including indigenous peoples, labor, health professionals, and state officials -- demanding that Congress "do the right thing" in implementing the important international environmental treaty - the Stockholm Convention, rather than using this as an opportunity to further gut our environmental statutes.

Please lend your support by contacting the members below.



June 21, 2006
The Honorable Joe Barton
Chairman
House Committee on Energy and Commerce
2109 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable John D. Dingell
Ranking Member
House Committee on Energy and Commerce
2328 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515

Re: Legislation to implement the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic
Pollutants (POPs)

Dear Mr. Chairman and Mr. Dingell:

We write to strongly encourage your leadership in ensuring that the paramount health and
environmental protection goals of the Stockholm Convention are fully embodied in U.S.
implementing amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Persistent organic
pollutants (POPs) are a global threat. Carried around the world by wind and water, they persist
for years in the environment and accumulate in our bodies, where they can cause cancer,
neurological impacts, and learning disabilities, and harm immune and reproductive systems.
Infants and children in the United States and throughout the world are especially vulnerable to
exposure before birth and from their mother's milk. Many Americans, especially Alaskans and
indigenous peoples, workers, and communities near industrial facilities, bear a heavy burden of
chemical contamination from POPs.

The Stockholm POPs Convention was negotiated with the active participation of the U.S.
government and signed by the Bush Administration with broad support from the business
community, workers, and the environmental and health community. The treaty bans or severely
restricts ten industrial or agricultural chemicals, and sets the goal of minimizing and ultimately
eliminating two industrial byproducts. At U.S. insistence, it also establishes a rigorous, science-
based process for identifying and adding other POPs to the Convention. As none of the "dirty
dozen POPs" chemicals presently in the treaty are intentionally produced in the United States,
how Congress chooses to implement the treaty's provisions for regulating other POPs is a test of
U.S. leadership.

Representatives Solis and Gillmor have each introduced bills that would amend TSCA
for the purpose of allowing the United States to implement the Stockholm Convention. Both
bills protect U.S. sovereignty by ensuring that the United States can make its own, independent
decisions whether to be bound by future international decisions to regulate additional POPs. But
the two bills have widely divergent visions of how Americans should be protected from these
dangerous substances. The Solis bill (H.R. 4800) seeks to implement the letter and spirit of the
POPs Convention by giving EPA clear authority to regulate and by living up to the expectations
of the American people that protecting human health should be a primary objective of U.S.
environment and health law.

The Gillmor bill (H.R. 4591) would abandon the Convention's fundamental health protection goal, introduce a standard that will weaken U.S. environmental and health safeguards, and create regulatory hurdles that would make it practically impossible for
EPA to ever protect Americans from some of the world's most dangerous chemicals.
On behalf of all Americans who will benefit from U.S. ratification of the POPs
Convention, we urge you to support implementing legislation that will enable the United States
to reassert leadership in protecting its citizens from persistent organic pollutants. The Solis bill
does this in a pragmatic and effective manner by requiring timely U.S. action, implementing the
Convention's health-based standard, and honoring the right of state, local and tribal authorities to
protect their citizens from the dangers of POPs. The Solis bill reflects the high standard for
POPs legislation that our organizations have insisted upon since the Convention was signed.

Ensure Timely U.S. Action
Once the United States commits to regulating additional POPs chemicals added to the
Stockholm Convention, EPA must have the authority to respond quickly and effectively.
 
The Gillmor bill does not require the United States to take any action after an international
decision to add a new POP to the Convention, even when the United States supports the
decision. Moreover, the Gillmor bill politicizes science, mandating that EPA apply
potentially onerous requirements that invite litigation while doing nothing to improve the
scientific quality of regulatory decisions.
 
The Solis bill embodies a better approach, directing EPA to take prompt regulatory action
when a new POP chemical is added to the Convention. Such action can include a decision
not to regulate if EPA concludes that there will be no adverse effect on human health. The
bill sensibly instructs EPA to take into account the findings of the international scientific
review process, in which the United States would be a full participant, as the logical starting
point for its evaluation, thereby avoiding costly, time-consuming, and redundant analysis.

Adopt the Treaty's Health Standard
A health-based decision-making standard is at the heart of the Stockholm Convention.
As a treaty that will become part of "the law of the land," the Convention text should be the
source of the standard for implementing amendments in the United States.
The Gillmor bill jettisons the Convention's health standard and directs EPA to find a
"reasonable balance" between the costs to chemical companies and the benefits of protecting
children and other vulnerable Americans from some of the world's most dangerous
chemicals. Such cost-benefit standards have been shown time and again to overestimate the
cost of regulation and dramatically undervalue the benefits of protecting public health.
Moreover, because the Gillmor bill would allow costs to trump health, it would all but ensure
that the United States could never join the rest of the world in accepting amendments that add
dangerous POPs chemicals to the treaty.
 
The Solis bill adopts the Stockholm Convention's health-based standard for regulating POPs.
The bill directs EPA to implement the control measures specified in the Convention in a
manner that protects against "significant adverse human health and environmental effects."

Respect State Measures to Protect Health
Many states are already taking action to regulate POPs, including California, Hawaii,
Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington.
 
The Gillmor bill would not only make it difficult for EPA to regulate a newly listed POP
chemical, but would also preempt state and local POPs regulations and prevent states from
taking regulatory action in the future. This sweeping preemption language could void state
and local measures to control POPs even when the EPA ultimately fails to regulate the
chemical.
 
The Solis bill respects state and local efforts to protect public health from POPs by
specifically allowing stricter state standards.
Our organizations support strong, vibrant U.S. participation in the Stockholm Convention.
We ask you to join us in realizing that vision by supporting implementing legislation that is true
to the letter and the spirit of the POPs agreement, as represented by the Solis bill. At the same
time, we reaffirm our commitment to ensure that the flawed approach of the Gillmor bill, an
approach that will undermine health and environmental protections, is not enacted into U.S. law.

Sincerely,

Advocates for Environmental Human Rights   Alaska Community Action on Toxics   Alliance for Nuclear
Responsibility   American Rivers   Arizona Toxics Information   Beyond Pesticides   Blue Ridge Environment
Defense League   Breast Cancer Fund   California League for Environmental Enforcement Now   Californians for
Alternatives to Toxics   Center for Environmental Health   Center for Health, Environment and Justice   Center for
International Environmental Law   Chemical Weapons Working Group   Circumpolar Conservation Union 
Citizen's Environmental Coalition   Clean Water Action   Clean Water Action, Massachusetts   Clean Water for
North Carolina   Commonweal   Department of the Planet Earth   Earthjustice   Ecology Center   Environment
California   Environmental Health Fund   Environmental Health Strategy Center   Environmental Research
Foundation   Environmental Working Group   EnviroSpec   Families Against Cancer & Toxics   Farmworker Safety
and Health Institute   Foundation for Advancements in Science and Education   Friends of the Earth   Fund for
Reconciliation and Development   Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives   Glynn Environmental Coalition 
Green Delaware   Greenpeace   Indigenous Environmental Network   Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy 
International Indian Treaty Council   International POPs Elimination Network   Jenifer Altman Foundation 
League of Conservation Voters   MOMS (Making our Milk Safe)   National Environmental Trust   National
Pediculosis Association   National Wildlife Federation   Natural Resources Council of Maine   Neighbors United
  Nuclear Information and Resource Service   Oceana   Oregon Toxics Alliance   Pesticide Action Network North
America   Physicians for Social Responsibility   S.F. Physicians for Social Responsibility   San Onofre Citizen's
Council   Science and Environmental Health Network   Sciencecorps   Sierra Club   U.S. Public Interest
Research Group   Washington Toxics Coalition   WE ACT for Environmental Justice   World Wildlife Fund