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NO. R-75.  Joint Resolution to request Congress to ban exportation of elemental mercury.


Offered by:  Representative Hosford of Waitsfield, Acinapura of Brandon, Adams of Hartland, Ancel of Calais, Bostic of St. Johnsbury, Botzow of Pownal, Brooks of Montpelier, Davis of Washington, Deen of Westminster, Donahue of Northfield, Edwards of Brattleboro, French of Randolph, Grad of Moretown, Haas of Rochester, Head of S. Burlington, Heath of Westford, Kitzmiller of Montpelier, Koch of Barre Town, Komline of Dorset, Krawczyk of Bennington, Kupersmith of S. Burlington, Lippert of Hinesburg, Maier of Middlebury, Marek of Newfane, McCullough of Williston, Miller of Shaftsbury, Minter of Waterbury, Nuovo of Middlebury, Obuchowski of Rockingham, Pearson of Burlington, Shand of Weathersfield, Sharpe of Bristol, Shaw of Derby, Smith of Morristown, Spengler of Colchester, Stevens of Shoreham, Sweaney of Windsor, Winters of Williamstown, and Zenie of Colchester

Whereas, mercury and mercury compounds are highly toxic to humans, ecosystems, and wildlife, and

Whereas, as many as 10 percent of women of childbearing age in the United States have mercury in their blood at a level that could put a baby at risk, and

Whereas, as many as 410,000 children born annually in the United States are at risk of neurological problems related to mercury, and

Whereas, the most significant source of mercury exposure to people in the United States is ingestion of mercury-contaminated fish, and

Whereas, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that, as of 2004:

(1)  44 states have fish advisories, covering more than 13,000,000 lake acres and more than 750,000 river miles,

(2)  the freshwater advisories are statewide in 21 states, and

(3)  the coastal advisories are statewide in 12 states, and

Whereas, since uncontaminated fish represent a critical and healthy source of nutrition worldwide, the long-term solution to mercury pollution is not to reduce fish consumption, but rather to minimize global mercury use and releases and thereby eventually to achieve reduced contamination levels in the environment, and

Whereas, mercury pollution is a transboundary pollutant, depositing locally, regionally, and globally, and affecting water bodies near industrial sources (including Lake Champlain) and remote areas (including the Arctic Circle), and

Whereas, the free trade of mercury and mercury compounds on the world market, at relatively low prices and in ready supply, encourages the continued use of mercury outside of the United States, often involving highly dispersive activities such as small-scale gold mining in developing countries, and

Whereas, although the intentional use of mercury is declining in the United States as a consequence of process changes in the manufacturing of products (including batteries, paints, switches, and measuring devices), those uses remain substantial in the developing world, where releases from the products are extremely likely due to the limited pollution control and waste management infrastructures in those countries, and

Whereas, the member countries of the European Union collectively are the largest source of mercury exports globally, and

Whereas, the European Union is in the process of enacting legislation that will prohibit mercury exports by not later than 2011, and

Whereas, according to the United States Geologic Survey, during the period of 2000 through 2004, the United States exported 506 metric tons of mercury more than it imported, making it a net exporter of mercury, and

Whereas, banning exports of mercury from the United States will have a notable effect  worldwide on the market availability of mercury and will facilitate switching to affordable mercury alternatives throughout the developing world, and

Whereas, since 2001, the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) has supported the stockpiling of mercury, as opposed to its release on the global market, and

Whereas, the Department of Defense has completed an environmental impact statement and has decided to store its mercury, and not sell it into the global market, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly urges the Congress to enact legislation:

(1)  prohibiting the sale, distribution, or transfer of elemental mercury by the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy to any other department or agency of the federal government, any state or local government, or any private person or entity;

(2)  prohibiting the export of elemental mercury from the United States;

(3)  authorizing the President, subject to notification and justification requirements, to prohibit the export of any mercury compound from the United States, as necessary to avoid subversion of the export ban;

(4)  requiring the President to establish storage capacity sufficient to store safely quantities of elemental mercury and any mercury compounds covered by the prohibitions that are in excess of quantities necessary for domestic consumption and to establish necessary regulations with respect to the establishment and operation of these storage facilities, and be it further

Resolved:  That the secretary of state be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the President of the United States and to the Vermont Congressional Delegation.

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont