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NO. R-93. JOINT RESOLUTION RELATING TO EPA’S MERCURY REPORT TO CONGRESS, UNITED STATES STOCKPILE SALES OF MERCURY, REGULATION OF MERCURY HAZARDOUS WASTE AND OTHER MATTERS.

( J.R.S. 12)

Offered by: Senator McCormack of Windsor County, Senator Ready of Addison County, Senator Ptashnik of Windsor County, Senator Rivers of Windsor County, Senator Spaulding of Washington County and Senator Bartlett of Lamoille County.

Whereas, there has been a two-to-threefold global increase in mercury in the environment since the 1850’s, increases of three times have been found in wilderness areas of the United States, and much higher increases have been found in developed areas of the United States, and

Whereas, mercury is truly a state, national and international concern because mercury is atmospherically transported indiscriminately across political boundaries, and

Whereas, atmospheric deposition resulting from human activities, including area sources, waste disposal and fossil fuel burning, contributes to mercury loading in the environment, and

Whereas, mercury is a persistent bioaccumulative toxic substance that presents particular problems in aquatic systems, and

Whereas, human consumption advisories have been issued in at least 1,500 water bodies in 36 states, including Vermont, because of high levels of mercury contamination in fish, resulting in losses to tourism and fishing industries and related activities, and

Whereas, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates, each year in the United States between 80,000 and 85,000 pregnant women are exposed to mercury levels high enough to produce risk to their children, and

Whereas, the EPA’s Mercury Report to Congress, required by the Clean Air Act to be completed by 1994, represents the best information in the world on the use, generation and disposal of mercury, and

Whereas, the EPA effectively completed the draft report in 1995, but has delayed submittal of the mercury report to Congress until 1999, and

Whereas, there are known substitutes for most mercury-containing products and devices, except for high-efficiency lighting, and

Whereas, over one-half billion mercury-containing lamps are annually generated in the United States, representing one of the largest sources of mercury in municipal waste streams, and typical waste management practices involve compaction before and during disposal, and

Whereas, landfill air emissions test data for mercury are lacking in Vermont, the northeast and nationally, and

Whereas, the EPA is simultaneously establishing maximum achievable control technologies for mercury sources pursuant to the Clean Air Act, proposing tightening water quality criteria for mercury under the Clean Water Act, placing priority on mercury-contaminated superfund sites, but is proposing to exempt mercury-containing lamps from hazardous waste regulations, and

Whereas, the U. S. government owns in excess of 11 million pounds of mercury in Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Energy (DOE) stockpiles, and

Whereas, the entire U. S. mercury stockpile has been declared excess to U.S. needs and has been slated for sale on the world market through the Defense National Stockpile of the DOD, and

Whereas, the State of Vermont is committed to mercury recycling and the elimination of nonessential uses of mercury as its top priority for waste management, and

Whereas, state and federal governments have taken many actions to reduce mercury in the environment, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That it is the sense of the General Assembly that the EPA should officially release the Mercury Report to Congress forthwith, and be it further

Resolved: That the General Assembly urges the EPA to conduct landfill air emission tests for mercury in the northeast and nationally, and be it further

Resolved: That the General Assembly urges the EPA not to exempt mercury-containing lamps from hazardous waste regulations, but instead to adopt universal waste rules that foster mercury recycling, and be it further

Resolved: That the General Assembly opposes future U.S. mercury stockpile sales, and calls for a permanent halt to sales, and be it further

Resolved: That the General Assembly urges EPA to develop permit provisions for all waste incinerators requiring the source separation of mercury-containing products and devices, and to not exempt smaller medical waste incinerators from more stringent federal pollution control rules, and be it further

Resolved: That the General Assembly urges EPA to recommend to Congress rescission of the exemption of fossil fuel burning power plants from federal pollution control rules, and be it further

Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send copies of this resolution to the President, Vice President, Vermont’s Congressional Delegation, and the Administrator of the EPA.