Oceana, a new international ocean protection group, today called on Congress to fix a faulty legislative proposal submitted by President Bush to enforce fully the provisions of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). The Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Senator James Jeffords (I-VT), holds its first hearing today on ratifying the treaty and on the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Implementation Act of 2002 (S. 2118), introduced by Sen. Jeffords.
The Bush Administration proposal to implement the treaty fails to give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to add more pollutants in the future to the treaty’s original 12 banned chemicals. The Jeffords bill explicitly gives this power to the agency.
With broad international government, chemical industry and public interest organization support, the unprecedented Stockholm Convention targeted 12 formerly used pesticides, industrial chemicals and manufacturing by-products that enter the oceans, endangering human health and the environment. It anticipates that new chemical pollutants will be added to this list of banned substances. Last year in a Rose Garden ceremony, President Bush stated that the POPs treaty “achieves a goal shared by this administration” and “shows the possibilities for cooperation among all parties to our environmental debates.” Only a year later, the Administration has backtracked on that support. The Administration’s proposed legislation only includes the original 12 chemicals and deprives EPA of the ability to add new ones.
“POPs are truly the scourge of the planet. They are dangerous -- even at extremely low levels -- for their capacity to endure and poison humans and the environment. The treaty takes a giant step forward in reducing human exposure to these toxic substances. Now, President Bush has taken a big step backward. Senator Jeffords’ bill would fix this problem and protect the circle of life. Congress should pass it,” said Pep Fuller, Oceana’s Senior International Representative. Mr. Fuller was formerly at the EPA and served as alternate head of the U.S. Delegation that negotiated the treaty.
Numerous studies have linked POPs to cancer, immune dysfunction, neurological conditions and reproductive disorders. These chemicals are highly toxic, stay harmful for long periods of time, accumulate in the body fat of humans and animals, and can travel long distances to threaten life far from their original source. POPs can do their greatest harm in debilitating future generations as they are readily and highly transmitted between mother and infant before birth and during nursing.
Oceana recently merged with the American Oceans Campaign to bring together dedicated people from around the world to build an international movement to save the oceans through public policy advocacy, science, economics, legal action, grassroots mobilization, and public education—all part of an exciting new commitment to save the world’s oceans.