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From May 4, 2005

U.S. States Take The Lead In Controlling Global Pollutants
(Beyond Pesticides, May 4, 2005)
A new report released yesterday reveals U.S. states are leading the way toward elimination of dangerous toxic pollutants, even while the Bush Administration drags its feet nationally and internationally to protect the public and environment from the most harmful chemicals.

Four years after signing an ambitious international treaty to eliminate the worst global toxins, the Bush Administration still refuses to ratify the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) report, U.S. States and the Global Toxics Treaty, demonstrates how some U.S. states are sidestepping the federal government to pursue the same goal as the international community and take action to protect from the dangers of POPs - considered the worst of the worst. The report is available at http://www.uspopswatch.org. The report surveys a handful of state and local approaches to eliminating persistent pollutants, including dioxins, mercury, pesticides, brominated flame retardants, and others.

Karen Perry Stillerman, author of the report, stated, “With their actions, the states are showing the world that Americans care about protecting public health and the global environment. The world needs to hear these real “good news” stories from the U.S., not just the Bush Administration’s empty rhetoric.”

A focus on Maine, California, and Washington State provides practical examples of policy tools including priority lists, chemical bans, restricted uses, and precaution, each of which is reflected in the Stockholm POPs treaty. States and communities in the United States are also on the front lines of environmental health tracking, pollution monitoring, and education about safer alternatives to dangerous chemicals.

Among the key findings are:

     •   U.S. states are at the vanguard of tackling POPs.
     •  State progress parallels the global POPs movement.
     •  State actions to reduce chemical threats must be respected.
     •  U.S. political will is needed for global POPs success.
     •  People and communities across the country must be heard.

“Despite the lack of federal leadership, U.S. states are moving towards the international goal of environmental health,” said Daryl Ditz, coordinator of US POPs Watch at the CIEL. “While we urge the United States to rejoin the global fight against chemical pollution, it’s essential to respect and defend state, local and tribal progress on POPs.”

The new report comes as more that 130 countries and 600 participants are meeting this week in Punta del Este, Uruguay to kickoff this pioneering global toxics treaty.