Mercury Export Ban Act

Mercury Export Ban Act, S. 906, (substitute) is scheduled to be marked up today at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee. The legislation would prohibit the sale of mercury by the U.S. government, ban exports of elemental mercury starting in 2010, establish a process for storing surplus mercury— and is supported by environmental, industry and state groups. “Trading mercury is not like trading potato chips,” said MPP Director Bender in a statement. “We’ve got to stop this circle of poison, where for example over 1000 tons of mercury are used annually by more than 10 million gold miners in 50 developing countries, exposing themselves, their families and the local and global environment to this dangerous neurotoxin.”

Lawmakers came up with the plan to have DOE accept the liquid metal for storage after they consulted with the industry organizations, including the American Chemistry Council, National Mining Association and The Chlorine Institute; environmentalists, including NRDC and MPP; and ECOS, a coalition of states’ top environmental regulators (see letter of support). While similar versions of the bill were introduced in the House (H.R. 1534) by Tom Allen (D-ME), and Senate (S.906) by Senators Obama (D-IL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the groups are urging passage of the substitute House-passed version, since it was the subject of subsequent negotiation and compromise, and more accurately reflects the current state of development on this issue.

Facing Up to the Hazards of Mercury Tooth Fillings

MPP director Michael Bender testifies today before a US Congressional Government Oversight Subcommittee on Domestic Policy hearing, entitled “Assessing State and Local Regulations to Reduce Mercury Emissions.” During his testimony, Bender presents MPP’s new report, “Facing Up to the Hazards of Mercury Tooth Fillings,” which lays out the rationale for placing a user fee on the continued use of dental mercury as a means to cover the costs of preventing dental mercury pollution from environmental release. Specifically, the report recommends that a user fee of $30.00 be assessed on amalgam manufacturers for the production of each mercury tooth filling, payable at time of sale. Funds collected should be placed into a designated account to cover the costs of controlling mercury pollution. The report also shows the cost-effectiveness of amalgam separators at preventing mercury from getting into the environment and clearly demonstrates that voluntary programs are not effective in convincing dentists to install and properly maintain separators.