Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The LRTAP Convention Revealed...Plus Don't Forget Today's Senate Hearing on TSCA Chemical Control

In continuing my series highlighting the three international agreements mentioned at last Thursday's House Subcommittee hearing on TSCA Reform, today I examine the Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution. See my previous pieces on the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions.

The Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution, or simply, LRTAP, includes eight separate Protocols, of which the Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants is the most relevant to the present discussion. The POPs Protocol was adopted in 1998 and focuses on "a list of 16 substances that have been singled out according to agreed risk criteria. The substances comprise eleven pesticides, two industrial chemicals and three by-products/contaminants." The goal is to "eliminate any discharges, emissions and losses of POPs." Some of the chemicals are banned outright (aldrin, chlordane, chlordecone, dieldrin, endrin, hexabromobiphenyl, mirex and toxaphene), while others are scheduled for elimination at a later stage (DDT, heptachlor, hexaclorobenzene, PCBs). There are also some whose uses are severely restricted (DDT, HCH [including lindane] and PCBs).

As with the other Conventions, the LRTAP POPs Protocol allows member countries to add chemicals to the list to be banned or restricted. Here again the United States was involved in negotiating the original Protocol but never ratified it in Congress. Which means the US can send representatives to POPs meetings to argue their case, but has no vote when it comes down to deciding whether the chemicals should be listed. And listing essentially means the chemical will be banned, either directly or through the blacklisting effect of identifying the chemical as a bad actor. Thus, the US cannot fully exert its influence to protect US interests.

And don't forget today's Senate hearing!

Senator Lautenberg will chair a subcommittee hearing on "Business Perspectives on Reforming U.S. Chemical Safety Laws" in which "leaders of businesses that manufacture or use chemicals to examine their business perspectives on reforming U.S. chemical safety laws." This starts at 10:00 AM EST in the EPW Hearing Room (406 Dirksen).

Witnesses include:

Kathy Gerwig - Vice President, Workplace Safety and Environmental Stewardship Officer, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.

Charlie Drevna - President, National Petrochemical and Refiners Association

Dr. Neil C. Hawkins Sc.D. - Vice President, EH&S and Sustainability for The Dow Chemical Company

Beth Bosley - Managing Director, Boron Specialties, On behalf of Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates

Howard Williams - Vice President, Construction Specialties, Inc.

Linda Fisher - Vice President, Safety Health and the Environment, DuPont

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