Assistant Administrator Stephen L. Johnson
Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Environment and Public Works Committee
United States Senate
May 9, 2002
††††††††††† Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for the invitation to appear before you today.† It is my privilege to represent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and to discuss the Administrationís legislative proposal to effectively implement three very important international environmental agreements:† The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (PIC) and the Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants negotiated under the UN Economic Commission for Europeís Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP POPs Protocol). This afternoon, I respectfully ask for your help to expeditiously approve the Administrationís legislative proposal so that the United States may be able to quickly and effectively ratify and implement these important environmental agreements.†††
††††††††††† The Bush Administration is committed to working closely with all members of this Committee and the U.S. Senate to ensure quick enactment of the implementing legislation and subsequent ratification of the agreements.† We want to work with you to craft legislation that tracks the provisions of these agreements and ensures that the United States retains its current position as the international leader in chemical environmental safety.
††††††††††† I am pleased to have the opportunity to update the Committee on EPAís domestic and international activities to effectively manage these pesticides and chemicals, our intentions with respect to the listing of† additional chemicals on the POPs agreements and to explain specific provisions of the Administrationís draft legislative proposal.†
††††††††††† The Bush Administration is firmly committed to ratification of both the global POPs Convention, the PIC Convention and the regional LRTAP POPs Protocol.††
††††††††††† Here in the United States, we have already taken extensive steps to address risks posed by the substances covered by the global POPs Convention and the LRTAP POPs Protocol.† Stand-alone action by any one country is not enough.† These chemicals continue to pose real health risks to U.S. citizens and to people around the world because they are used and released in other countries and travel long distances from their source.† In the United States, these agreements are of particular importance for the people and environment of Alaska, which are impacted by POPs transported by air and water from outside the State.† This is particularly true for Alaskan Natives, who rely heavily on traditional diets comprised of fish and wildlife.† By joining with the rest of the world to phase out or reduce these toxic pollutants, we protect the health and the environment, not only of our fellow Americans, but of all those who share our planet.
II.††††††† U.S.í Role as an International Leader
††††††††††† At EPA, we take the threats posed by these pesticides and chemicals to our environment and public health very seriously.† The U.S. was the first country to begin a thorough scientific† reassessment/re-registration program for pesticides and, I believe,† is still the only nation that is looking at the cumulative risks posed by pesticides.† Other countries look to the United States to provide strong leadership in the area of chemical safety.† EPA is internationally recognized for its† sound scientific risk assessments and regulatory decision making.† Our actions are respected and often replicated in other countries across the globe.
††††††††††† EPA continues to take measures that promote the objectives of the POPs Convention.† As you know, the Convention contains obligations related to providing technical and financial assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition to help them comply with POPs Convention obligations.† The U.S is committed to providing financial and technical assistance to assist developing countries in ratifying the Convention and meeting their† obligations.
III. The Bush Administrationís Legislative Proposal to Implement POPs, PIC and LRTAP
††††††††††† The Administrationís legislative proposal is a culmination of an interagency process that provides targeted changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in order to track the provisions of these three agreements.† Because these agreements are largely consistent with existing U.S. law, only narrowly targeted adjustments to FIFRA and TSCA are necessary for the U.S. to fully implement our obligations under them.† †††††††††
††††††††††† For the currently listed intentionally produced global and LRTAP POPs chemicals, the† legislation contains language to prohibit any production, use, processing, distribution in commerce and disposal operations that may be inconsistent with treaty obligations.† It also contains provisions for specific exemptions from the prohibitions such as those needed for research purposes, consistent with the agreements.†
††††††††††† The Administrationís legislative language directly tracks obligations in the PIC Convention relating to notice of control action, export notification, export controls and labeling.† With these provisions, the U.S. will be able to effectively and expeditiously implement this important Convention.
††††††††††† The Bush Administration is fully committed to the listing of additional chemicals to the global POPS and regional LRTAP POPs agreements.† In fact, thatís why the Administrationís legislative draft contains information collection provisions that will ensure that the U.S. is as informed as possible of the risks, benefits, production, uses and other pertinent factors concerning candidate chemicals when it is negotiating amendments to add future chemicals.†
††††††††††† The Administration believes the processes set forth in Article 8 of the POPs Convention and the LRTAP Executive Body Decision 1998/2 for identifying candidates for listing chemicals are sufficiently rigorous and science based and are fully supported by this Administration.†† We are confident that they will identify strong candidates for listing based on a scientific risk assessment.† However, the parties must still work through the details of a decision process for evaluating cost and other information for listing additional substances under POPs.† The Administration is firmly committed to maintaining the high degree of analytical and scientific rigor that has led to the international recognition for its sound scientific risk assessments and regulatory decision making.† At this time, we do not have enough experience with how, after a decision that a chemical meets certain scientific criteria† for listing, the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the global POPs Convention or the Executive Body of the LRTAP POPs Protocol will weigh and balance risk assessment, socioeconomic and other factors (listed in Annex F of the global POPs Convention and in Executive Decision 1998/2 for the LRTAP POPs Protocol) when making final listing decisions and deciding on appropriate control measures for the chemical.† Both Agreements explicitly contemplate bans and restrictions, and possible exemptions, as types of risk management outcomes, with chemical specific socioeconomic factors being relevant considerations.† Since no chemical has been through the listing process, however, it is unclear how the COP/Executive Body will weigh these factors and arrive at appropriate control measures.†
††††††††††† Recognizing that a provision to address the listing of additional chemicals is not required to bring the U.S. into compliance upon entry into force of these agreements, the Administration determined that it would be best to consider these risk management issues in the context of the detailed POPs listing process.† We believe the experience gained at the negotiating table when considering additional chemicals will be of great value in conducting the necessary analyses for EPA action.† Such valuable information, combined with our experience in implementing established domestic regulatory standards under FIFRA and TSCA will help ensure that EPAís decisions regarding newly listed POPs result in the most appropriate and balanced risk management decisions.
††††††††††† The Administration would also like to recognize Chairman Jeffords and Senator Smith for their significant efforts to support the global POPs Convention and LRTAP POPs Protocol.† We are in the process of reviewing the Chairmanís implementing legislation, but have not completed our analysis of all of the changes proposed by the bill.† Thus, at this time, we have not developed a formal position on S. 2118.† However, Administrator Whitman and I are committed to working with Senator Jeffords, Senator Smith, Members of the Committee and all Members of Congress to ensure expeditious enactment of the best legislation possible to implement the POPs, PIC and LRTAP agreements.†
IV. A Call for Swift Ratification
††††††††††† The Administration is seeking swift ratification of these Agreements and, with your support, we will retain our current position as a† very active player in their implementation.† We believe that it is especially important to be at the table as a party when crucial early implementation decisions are being made and when parties, including the U.S. submit proposals to add new chemicals to the global POPs and LRTAP POPs Protocolís control annexes.† As you may know, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) intends to hold a forum at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in August to encourage countries to deposit their instruments of ratification for the POPs Convention with UNEP at the Summit. †As a result, the Stockholm Convention may come into force soon and it is important that the U.S. be a party at that time so that the U.S. can play a strong role from the outset of the Convention.†† Furthermore, the United States would like to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to the goals of this important treaty and by our example encourage other countries to ratify the Convention.
V. Ratification is a U.S. Interest
††††††††††† The Administration is very proud of the U.S.ís leadership role on these very important environmental treaties.† I am especially proud of the POPs treaty because it provides a perfect example of how industry, business and environmental interests have worked together to resolve serious environmental issues. These three agreements illustrate how much can be accomplished in support of common environmental goals.† Upon ratification, EPA will continue to work with various industry and environmental organizations on implementation of the Convention.† Together with our domestic stakeholders and† international organizations, we will support the growth of the capacity of developing countries to meet the imperative of the sound management of chemicals.†
††††††††††† Thank you for the opportunity to discuss these international environmental agreements this afternoon.† Again, I want to thank you for your support and leadership and assure you that President Bush, Administrator Whitman and I are looking forward to working with the Committee to ratify these important agreements and finalize the implementing legislation.††† I will be pleased to answer any questions.†