As Emily posted last week, the Mercury Pollution Reduction Act was scheduled for a mark up in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. After the sudden scheduling of the mark up generated a bunch of activity around the bill, the leadership of the committee decided to postpone its mark up to give legislators more time for consideration.
H.R.2190, the Mercury Pollution Reducaiton Act, would stop the "Foul Four" chlor-alkali plants from using mercury to manufacture chlorine and other chemicals. These plants continue to cling to mercury-polluting technology that was invented in 1894 while the rest of the industry uses modern technology.
In theface of information that Representative John Barrow (D-GA), who has one of the Foul Four plants in his district and is a member of the committee, might offer an amendment to extend the enactment of the bill from 2012 to 2018, dozens of concerned citizens and organizations in Georgia contacted him the day before the mark up. They expressed their love of Georgia's natural resources, their concerns about mercury pollution in Georgia's waterways and their outrage at the idea of allowing the Olin plant in Augusta to continue releasing mercury any longer than necessary. Here's are samples from a few concerned citizens:
"As a Georgia sportsman, an avid fisherman and the father of two young boys, I feel it imperative we start thinking about the future we leave the next generation and the costs (both financial and ecological) they will have to pay for if we do not take this responsibility seriously today."
"I’ve heard some startling news that Rep. John Barrow is about to weaken HB 2190, amending the bill to read that Olin doesn’t have to restrict mercury releases until 2016. This doesn’t seem like John Barrow I have come to know. Is this true? I hope not."
"The Savannah River and all of the citizens who rely on these waters need John Barrow to speak for them, and not make unjustified concessions to a toxic industry. Rep. John Barrow can save jobs, electricity, and our environment by not going forward with his plans to accommodate polluters."
Though we don't have an exact date for the mark up of the bill, it is expected to happen soon. If your Representative is on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, please call or email to express your support! The vote could be close so every constituent who takes action makes a difference!