The U.S. just joined the European Union in setting a date certain to ban their mercury exports, thereby reducing the supply of commodity mercury into the world market. Environmental groups in the U.S. and around the world applauded the broad bi-partisan support of the legislation. “Neither mercury nor the fish we eat recognizes federal boundaries,” Linda Greer, Director of the Health Program at NRDC, said in a statement. “Passage of this legislation banning the export of mercury is a great victory for the health of people in America and all over the world. It will curb the flow of mercury into global commerce, keeping it out of our tuna and other fish.”
In independent actions taken in late September, the EU adopted a mercury export ban that takes effect in 2011, while earlier this month Congress passed legislation to ban U.S. mercury exports by 2013. U.S. President George Bush signed the legislation it into law yesterday. The Mercury Export Ban Act, S. 906, prohibits the sale of mercury by the U.S. government, prohibits the transfer of elemental mercury by Federal agencies and requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to designate and manage an elemental mercury long-term disposal facility.The U.S. and the EU are among the top exporters of commodity mercury. Between 40 and 50% of the estimated 3,800 metric tons of annual global trade in mercury passes through the EU and the U.S.