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.