DISAPPROVAL OF EPA RULE PROMULGATION -- (Senate - September 12, 2005)
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Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I regret having to miss the vote on the Collins-Leahy mercury resolution on the floor today; however, I am in Louisiana delivering supplies to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. It is my understanding that my absence will not affect the outcome of this vote.
The scientific evidence regarding the role that mercury contamination plays in public health and the environment speaks to the importance of this issue. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin harmful to fetuses' and infants' nervous systems. Frighteningly, one in six women of childbearing age in the United States carries enough accumulated mercury in her body to pose risks of adverse health effects to her children should she become pregnant. But it doesn't end there. A recent study found links between mercury and childhood developmental disabilities such as autism. Forty-five States have fish advisories for mercury warning pregnant women and children to limit their consumption of many fish caught in freshwater. And researchers have warned that mercury is associated with cardiovascular disease in adult men.
Facing this threat to the environment and our public health, the Bush EPA has failed. Whether through effort or error, it has repeatedly taken its lead from regulated industries, overlooked sound science, and put the demands of the special interest ahead of the public interest. EPA has indefensibly purported to overturn its obligation under the Clean Air Act to adopt far more protective mercury regulations by 2008. Simultaneously the Agency has substituted far weaker measures that do not require any specific mercury reductions before 2018, and even then delay the ultimate reductions for an additional decade.
As Members of the Senate, we have a unique opportunity under the Congressional Review Act to send the mercury powerplant rule back to the EPA for a thorough review. Only through a new rulemaking can we hope to develop a scientifically sound proposal that will protect the public health, protect the economy and give the public any confidence in the regulatory process.