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WRANGLE OVER POPs TREATY
Administration plan assailed for failure to control additional pollutants
The Bush administration's plan to implement an international treaty restricting manufacture and use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) has run into criticism.
At issue is the procedure for adding chemicals to the list of 12 initially covered by the pact, called the Stockholm Convention. Negotiators crafted the agreement so that more substances, after passing scientific review, can be appended to the convention if treaty partners all agree. The pact now covers dioxins, several pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls.
For the U.S. to become a full partner in the treaty, Congress must amend laws controlling the manufacture of pesticides and industrial chemicals. Earlier this month, the Administration proposed legislation for doing so (C&EN, April 15, page 30).
Under that plan, Congress would have to approve of controls for each new chemical or group of compounds added to the Stockholm Convention. But Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chairman James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.) and environmental activists say the legislation should allow EPA to restrict production and use of chemicals added to the pact, without congressional involvement.
"To send up this proposal without the ability to regulate new harmful substances is shortsighted and does not fulfill our commitment to this global treaty," Jeffords says of the Administration's plan. He has introduced a bill (S. 2118) that would empower EPA to prohibit the U.S. manufacture for export of any chemicals added to the agreement.
Requiring Congress to act on additional POPs would create a cumbersome process, says Rick Hind of Greenpeace. The Administration may accept Jeffords' bill, he adds.
Michael Walls, counsel for the American Chemistry Council, says the chemical industry group has not taken sides on the issue. The conflict will get worked out during the legislative process, he says.
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