Issue Date: November 19, 2007
House Passes Ban on Mercury Exports
The House of Representatives last week passed a bill that would ban U.S. exports of elemental mercury beginning in 2010. The legislation would require the Department of Energy to store quicksilver recovered from chlor-alkali plants, gold-mining operations, and the recycling of fluorescent light bulbs and mercury-containing devices. The bill, H.R. 1534, is aimed at eliminating environmental release of the neurotoxic element. Under the legislation, companies would have to pay DOE a one-time fee to cover most costs of storing the metal. The provision was negotiated by Democrats and Republicans after consultation with three industry organizations—the American Chemistry Council, the Chlorine Institute, and the National Mining Association—as well as with the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Council of the States, which is a coalition of top state environmental regulators. The Bush Administration opposes the bill, saying a requirement for DOE to store private-sector mercury is "outside the scope of the department's core mission and would involve additional costs to the federal taxpayer."
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