Legislation to Implement the 2001 Stockholm Convention, including
The Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Implementation Act of 2002 (S.2118)
Testimony of Brooks B. Yeager
Vice President for Global Threats
World Wildlife Fund
Before the Committee on Environment and Public Works
United States Senate
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
On behalf of World Wildlife Fund's 1.2 million members, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the implementing legislation for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Known worldwide by its panda logo, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is dedicated to protecting the rich biological diversity on which the prosperity and survival of human societies depends. As the leading privately supported international conservation organization in the world, WWF has sponsored conservation work in more than 100 countries since 1961.
For the record, I am Brooks Yeager, Vice President for Global Threats at WWF, where I supervise campaigns to conserve global forests and ocean resources, to avert damage to the global environment from climate change and toxic pollution, and to ensure the environmental sustainability of global commerce. Before joining WWF, I served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment and Development at the U.S. State Department. At State I was responsible for the development and negotiation of U.S. Government policy in a range of bilateral and global environmental discussions and undertakings. These included the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the CBD Biosafety Protocol, the Global Environment Facility, the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), the International Tropical Timber Organization, and United Nations forest discussions.
I also served as the United States' lead negotiator for the Stockholm POPs Convention. We are here today to discuss the implementing legislation for this ground-breaking treaty. With your permission, I will try to distinguish the views I express on behalf of WWF from those observations I can make from my involvement on behalf of the U.S. Government in the Convention’s development.
The Stockholm POPs Convention represents the most important effort by the global community, to date, to rein in and ultimately halt the proliferation of toxic chemicals. It's an agreement that is at once ambitious, comprehensive, and realistic. The treaty targets some of the world's most dangerous chemicals -- POPs include pesticides such as chlordane, industrial chemicals such as PCBs, and by-products such as dioxins.
POPs pose a particular hazard because of four characteristics: they are toxic; they are persistent, resisting normal processes that break down contaminants; they accumulate in the body fat of people, marine mammals, and other animals and are passed from mother to fetus; and they can travel great distances on wind and water currents. Even small quantities of POPs can wreak havoc in human and animal tissue, causing nervous system damage, diseases of the immune system, reproductive and developmental disorders, and cancers.
Persistent organic pollutants are a threat to human health, wildlife, and marine and terrestrial ecosystems in the United States and around the world. From Alaska to the Great Lakes to Florida, Americans face an insidious but largely invisible threat from POPs chemicals. Despite more than two decades of U.S. efforts to control POPs pollution, POPs used and released in other countries -- often thousands of miles from our borders -- continue to contaminate our lands and waterways, the food we eat, and the air we breathe.
Our government made a concerted effort, starting not long after the publication of Rachel Carson’s pathbreaking Silent Spring, to eliminate the production and use of known POPs chemicals in the United States – yet we are still vulnerable to POPs pollution. Our environment, wildlife, and human health continue to be affected by POPs from unremediated contaminated sites at home and the production and use of POPs elsewhere in the world. This last fact is central to understanding the United States’ strong national interest in the success of this global effort to reduce and eliminate POPs. POPs' mobility in air and water currents, for example, makes possible their presence along with metals and other particulates in incursions of Saharan dust into the continental United States. African dust is the dominant aerosol constituent in southern Florida's dense summer hazes. Similarly, one potential source of DDT in some salmon returns to Alaska rivers is its extensive use in Asian agriculture. A global mechanism to reduce these "chemical travelers without passports" is necessary, urgent, and very much in our national interest.
[Note: "A Toxic Hot Spots" map submitted with this testimony will be referred to in relation to statements made in the prior paragraph.]
The Stockholm POPs Convention was negotiated by more than one hundred and twenty governments over a four-year period. As the head of the U.S. delegation, I was responsible for developing the United States’ negotiating objectives and strategies, and for assuring that our national interest, positions, and requirements were reflected in the final text. Development of the U.S. position was accomplished through a thorough, not to say exhaustive, domestic process involving regular consultations with seven domestic agencies, industry, the environmental and public health communities, native American representatives, and various interested state governments, including the State of Alaska.
This careful process of developing the U.S. negotiating position is one of the reasons, I believe, that President Bush’s decision to sign the Stockholm Convention last April received such broad support. WWF and many others -- including the chemical industry, environmental and public health organizations and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle -- applauded the President’s Rose Garden announcement. We are pleased that the President has decided to send the treaty package to the Senate for ratification.
In fact, both industry and environmental representatives made important contributions to the final product. I would like to note in particular the constructive roles played by Mr. Michael Walls and Mr. Paul Hagen of the American Chemistry Council (ACC). A letter to Governor Whitman on February 26, 2002, from Mr. Frederick Webber, ACC's President and CEO, noted that,
ACC strongly recommends that the Administration seek the U.S. Senate's advice and consent to ratification as soon as possible. We believe it is important for the United States to continue its leadership role in the global effort to address the risks posed by POPs emissions, and believe that the United States should make every effort to be among the first 50 countries ratifying the Convention.
WWF looks forward to working with our environment and public health NGO colleagues, indigenous peoples, the ACC and other business groups, and other stakeholders in moving forward the POPs implementing legislation and treaty ratification packages as expeditiously as possible.
The POPs treaty represents a significant and innovative breakthrough in global chemicals management, calling for concrete steps to restrict or phase out dangerous chemicals rather than relying on expensive, end-of-pipe measures such as pollution scrubbers and filters. The treaty's ambitious control obligations were developed with enough flexibility that they can be accomplished largely within the established U.S. statutory and regulatory structure. As we will discuss today, only limited adjustments are needed to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
In Stockholm in May 2001, the POPs treaty was signed by 91 governments and ratified by two. Already those numbers have climbed to 128 signatories and the equivalent of 7 Parties (six ratifications and one accession) as of May 1, 2002. WWF is working with governments around the world in the hope of generating the required 50 ratifications by the World Summit on Sustainable Development in late August in Johannesburg, South Africa, so that the treaty can enter into force before the end of 2002. This is an ambitious target, but one fully justified by the urgency of the problem. WWF believes that the Johannesburg Summit presents a significant opportunity for American leadership in the global effort to eliminate POPs, as well as in broader issues affecting the global environment and human development. Achieving Senate advice and consent for ratification within the next 15 weeks is admittedly a much-accelerated timeframe, but with energy and determination we believe this is achievable. Enacting implementing legislation in such a period may be even more challenging, but we urge you to try and do so.
WWF extends heartfelt thanks and congratulations to Senator Jeffords and his staff on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for introducing sound, forward-thinking legislation to implement the POPs treaty.
Overview of the Stockholm POPs Convention
Before delving into the specifics of the implementing legislation, a brief overview of the structure and mechanisms of the Stockholm POPs Convention may be in order. The POPs treaty is designed to eliminate or severely restrict production and use of POPs pesticides and industrial chemicals; ensure environmentally sound management and chemical transformation of POPs waste; and avert the development of new chemicals with POPs-like characteristics.
Eliminating intentionally produced POPs. The agreement targets chemicals that are detrimental to human health and the environment globally, starting with a list of 12 POPs that includes formerly used pesticides, dioxins, and PCBs. Most of the pesticides are slated for immediate bans once the treaty takes effect. A longer phase-out (until 2025) is planned for certain PCB uses. With regard to DDT, the agreement sets the goal of ultimate elimination, with a timeline determined by the availability of cost-effective alternatives for malaria prevention. The agreement limits use in the interim to disease vector control in accordance with World Health Organization guidelines, and calls for research, development, and implementation of safe, effective, and affordable alternatives to DDT.
Ultimately eliminating byproduct POPs. For dioxins, furans, and hexachlorobenzene, parties are called on to reduce total releases with the goal of their continuing minimization and, where feasible, ultimate elimination. The treaty urges the use of substitute or modified materials, products, and processes to prevent the formation and release of by-product POPs.
Incorporating precaution. Precaution, including transparency and public participation, is a guiding approach throughout the treaty, with explicit references in the preamble, objective, provisions for adding POPs, and determination of best available technologies.
Disposing of POPs wastes. The treaty includes provisions for the environmentally sound management and disposal of POPs wastes (including stockpiles, products, articles in use, and materials contaminated with POPs). The POP content in waste is to be destroyed, irreversibly transformed, or, in very limited situations, otherwise disposed of in an environmentally sound manner in coordination with Basel Convention requirements.
Controlling POPs trade. Trade in POPs is allowed only for the purpose of environmentally sound disposal or in other very limited circumstances where the importing State provides certification of its environmental and human health commitments and its compliance with the POPs treaty's waste provisions.
Allowing limited and transparent exemptions. Most exemptions to the treaty requirements are chemical-and country-specific. There are also broader exceptions for use in laboratory-scale research; for small quantities in the possession of an end-user; and for quantities occurring as unintentional trace contaminants in products. Notification procedures and other conditions apply to exemptions for POPs as constituents of manufactured articles and for certain closed-system site-limited intermediates.
Funding commitments enabling all countries to participate. The ability of all countries to fulfill their obligations will be integral to the treaty's success. The treaty contains a sensible and realistic financial mechanism, utilizing the Global Environment Facility (GEF), through which donor countries have committed to assisting developing countries and transitional economies in meeting their obligations under the treaty. Adequacy, predictability, and timely flow of funds are essential. The treaty calls for regular review by the Conference of Parties of both the level of funding and the effectiveness of performance of the institutions entrusted with the treaty's financial operations.
In my view, Mr. Chairman, this is a solid and carefully crafted treaty. But it is also a treaty that reflects a careful balance of interests achieved through negotiation and compromise. The U.S. interest, as we articulated it during the negotiations, was to achieve an ambitious treaty that would address the global environmental damage caused by POPs, but do so in a way that would be practical, implementable, financially efficient, and consistent with the fundamental structure of our national approach to chemical regulation.
Other countries had different interests, some similar, some at variance with ours. The developing countries were neither willing nor able to invest in what to them was a new environmental priority such as POPs control and remediation without financial and technical assistance from the developed world. The G-77 negotiators insisted throughout the negotiation on a new financial mechanism, specific to the Convention, with mandatory assessments. The establishment of the GEF as the Convention’s interim financial mechanism represents a genuine compromise in which the donor countries committed to provide additional financial resources, but through a channel with a proven track record and one over which donor countries exert significant control.
Similarly, the EU and a number of other countries insisted early in the negotiations on a framework for regulating byproducts such as dioxins based on quantitative baselines and mandatory percentage reductions. The United States and some developing countries considered this unrealistically rigid, in view of the highly varying levels of knowledge regarding dioxin sources in various national contexts and the even higher variation among countries in the capacity to address such sources. The framework for dioxin regulation which emerged sets an ambitious goal of ‘ultimate elimination...where feasible,’ but seeks to reach this goal through a nationally-driven process of inventory, planning, and appropriate regulation, under guidance from the Convention. This too was a genuine compromise that should produce real progress in dioxin source reduction in the coming years.
The process of balancing interests and finding a unified way forward was critical to developing a consensus as to how to add new POPs chemicals to the treaty over time. All parties clearly recognized that the Convention could not be successful if it were limited solely to the 12 chemicals already on the POPs list. All parties recognized, and stated, that the Convention was intended to be dynamic rather than static. But the question of what scientific and institutional process to use in adding chemicals to the list was fraught with difficulties and misunderstandings.
For the United States, it was critical that this process be scientifically-driven and not subject to political whim. Some in the U.S. feared that other countries might be almost cavalier in adding chemicals to the list, and that such an approach would distort the treaty and distract parties from the strong efforts needed to deal with the chemicals already on the list.
For some in the EU and elsewhere, it was critical that the process for adding chemicals not be subject to endless procedural roadblocks. This concern reflected an anxiety that the affected industries or governments might use procedural challenges to block the addition of chemicals that would legitimately qualify for the list on scientific grounds, and that this approach would impede the effectiveness of the Convention over time.
The procedure for adding new chemicals which was finally adopted is, once again, a genuine compromise, but one which, in my view, successfully protects the U.S. interest in every respect. It may be useful to give a short account of the negotiations on this important issue.
First, the U.S. negotiating team insisted on, and successfully negotiated, the scientific criteria according to which a nominated chemical would be evaluated. These criteria are contained in Annex D of the Convention. Then we negotiated the process through which these criteria should be applied, by a scientific screening committee (the so-called POPs Review Committee or ‘POPRC’), working under the supervision of the Conference of the Parties (the COP). Finally, we negotiated the terms under which the COP would review the recommendation of this scientific group, the conditions under which the COP could make a decision to add or reject a chemical, and the procedures for party governments to accept or reject the COP’s decision.
The process which emerged is described in more detail in our substantive discussion of the new chemicals provisions. Let me just say here that it offers the United States the safeguards of rigorous science, a careful review procedure, a high institutional threshold for COP decisions to add chemicals, and the right to reject the addition of a new chemical, if appropriate. In addition, this compromise also successfully resolved, at least in this context, the long-running controversy between the United States and the European Union on the subject of precaution, and did so in a way which may have useful applications in the future.
The Congressional action necessary to implement the POPs treaty must come in two areas – financial support and implementing legislation.
POPs Financial Support
Negotiators agreed to request that the Global Environment Facility serve as the treaty's principal financial mechanism, on an interim basis. It is WWF's strong view that the GEF must be fully funded in order to provide sufficient resources for developing countries to begin to eliminate POPs. In order to take on the added responsibility of assisting the global effort to eliminate POPs without robbing its other critical priorities, the GEF needs to be replenished at a higher level. It will take American leadership to do this. The Administration's $177.5 million FY03 request for the GEF, including paying a portion of U.S. arrears, is an important first step towards this goal. We urge the Committee to work with the Appropriations Committee to fully fund the Administration’s $177.5 million request, and to allow the President sufficient flexibility within the request to position the United States to lead efforts to replenish the GEF at the level necessary.
POPS Implementing Legislation
As WWF has not had an opportunity to review the official transmission from the Administration, our comments will be directed primarily to the Chairman's bill, S. 2118. We would be happy to submit comments on the Administration's bill at a later date.
S. 2118 amends FIFRA and TSCA (the first amendments to TSCA since its enactment in 1976) to implement both the Stockholm POPs Convention and the Protocol on POPs to the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP POPs Protocol). My comments will address primarily the implementing legislation for the Stockholm Convention.
S. 2118 would provide EPA with the authority to prohibit manufacture of the twelve POPs identified in the Stockholm Convention annexes as well as other POPs subsequently added to the Convention. The legislation also includes related provisions calling on the National Academy of Sciences to develop new methodologies for screening future POPs candidates.
First and foremost, I would like to address the provisions for adding new chemicals to the treaty. Speaking both as the lead U.S. negotiator and in my capacity for WWF, I want to emphasize the importance of including the targeted statutory amendments needed to add other chemicals to the treaty.
The international community envisioned a dynamic instrument that could take into account emerging scientific knowledge about chemicals beyond the initial 12. Integral to the treaty is a process for nomination, science-based assessment (including risk profiles and risk assessments), and decision-making that involves both the subsidiary POPs Review Committee and the Conference of Parties before a substance can be added to the treaty's annexes. Unless this element of the treaty is considered to be self-executing, the legal mechanism to eliminate the production, use, and export of new POPs must be reflected in the implementing legislation. We applaud Senator Jeffords for including in his bill the critical amendments to TSCA and FIFRA to regulate subsequent additions.
WWF and other environmental and public health organizations stand alongside the chemical industry in voicing our support for full implementation. Again to quote from the American Chemistry Council's letter to Governor Whitman,
ACC believes it is possible to craft appropriate amendments to TSCA and FIFRA to reflect the treaty additions process….Although we have not yet seen the Administration's draft implementing legislation, we are confident that matters concerning the substance selection process can be addressed as necessary in the course of the legislative process.
It is our understanding that both the Jeffords bill and the Administration proposal are based on a legislative proposal crafted by EPA and other U.S. Government agencies last summer, but the Administration removed these essential provisions for adding new POPs from its final implementing package.
The Administration's proposal apparently envisions a case-by-case revision of domestic legislation for each POP candidate beyond the initial 12. Such an approach risks politicizing decisions that would otherwise be based on sound science. Moreover, we find it hard to believe that Congress will be willing or able to repeatedly reopen domestic laws such as TSCA and FIFRA which have rarely if ever been amended.
In our view, as I have already mentioned, the Convention as negotiated provides the U.S. with a great deal of flexibility in deciding whether and how to take domestic action against future POPs:
· The international selection process involves input from all countries that are Parties to the Convention: Article 8 of the Convention provides for the evaluation and addition of chemicals beyond the initial 12. Upon entry into force, the Conference of the Parties (COP) will establish a Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC). Parties will submit chemical nominations to the POPRC, which will evaluate them based on agreed scientific criteria including persistence, bioaccumulation, long-range transport, and toxicity. The POPRC must prepare a draft risk profile in accordance with Annex E, to be made available for input from all Parties and observers. The POPRC will then make recommendations that must be approved by the entire Conference of the Parties before a nominated chemical can be added to the treaty as a binding amendment.
· The Convention does not automatically obligate the U.S. to eliminate each new POP that is added internationally: Under Article 22(3) of the Convention, COP-agreed amendments to add new chemicals become binding upon all Parties, subject to the opportunity to “opt out” of such obligations within one year. However, there exists another safeguard under Article 25(4), which was proposed by the U.S., allowing a Party to declare when ratifying the Convention that it will be bound by new chemical amendments only if it affirmatively “opts in” via a separate, subsequent ratification process. The State Department has indicated that the U.S. will take advantage of the “opt in” provision, enabling the Senate to give its advice and consent to the addition of each new POP in the future.
Including these and other safeguards in the POPs treaty was a major objective of U.S. negotiators, and one which I believe was fully achieved. At the end of the long, hard concluding week of negotiations in Johannesburg in December 2000, I can say that the U.S. negotiators felt extremely pleased with the balance of the treaty, and were fully satisfied with the particular provisions for the addition of new chemicals. In my view, the Administration's reluctance to include authority to regulate new POPs -- the so-called 13th POP, and beyond – cannot be justified by any need to add to an already elaborate system of protections. It is also my view that the absence of such provisions jeopardizes U.S. participation in the Convention, and will injure the credibility of the United States in this context.
From the point of view of an environmental organization, in view of the safeguards built into the treaty mechanism itself, it would make sense to make regulation of newly-listed POPs automatic, triggered by the government’s decision to "opt in" to the listing under Article 25(4). While the rebuttable-presumption language contained in S. 2118 offers the additional reassurance of a domestic process of notice and comment, which may be attractive for some interests, we would note that FIFRA's special review and cancellation process, if challenged, generally takes at least five years and often more than 10. This is clearly far too long a period to revisit, via the procedures set forth in domestic regulations that govern the cancellation process, a scientific conclusion and policy decision already taken by the government in its role as a party to the Convention.
One solution to this dilemma might be to amend the cancellation process so that when a pesticide is listed as a POP, or in the judgment of EPA deserves to be listed as a POP, the EPA's evidentiary burden would be restricted to proving that the basic POPs listing criteria apply -- thereby precluding a full FIFRA cost-benefit analysis. Administrative review would be limited to the data and scientific judgments supporting EPA's conclusion that the POPs criteria apply to a given pesticide.
In addition, it is important that the legislation ensure the elimination of any POPs pesticide -- whether registered for a formulated end-use product or a technical material -- to enable U.S. compliance with obligations under the POPs treaty. In other words, each of a pesticide's registrations -- the one covering "technical material," i.e., the pure active ingredient, and the second for "end-use products" formulated with the addition of inert ingredients (surfactants, emulsifiers, carriers, etc.) -- should count as "existing registrations" even if the pesticide is not being actively marketed or used in the United States.
In step with the cancellation action (but lagged by about two years to allow channels of trade to clear), whenever a pesticide is listed as a POP, EPA should be directed to phase out all tolerances covering food uses of the pesticide. Likewise, listing as a POP should be enough to trigger EPA revocation of any "import tolerances" or exemptions. Revocation of a tolerance is the only tool the EPA has to alter how high-risk pesticides are used outside U.S. borders -- and to protect human health inside the United States. Tolerances set in the United States can serve as de facto global standards because so many countries depend on access to the U.S market and because changes in U.S. tolerance levels often trigger changes in the international Maximum Residue Limits set by Codex.
WWF is undertaking a thorough assessment of these issues as presented in S. 2118, with the intent of assisting the Committee in assuring that any changes to FIFRA and TSCA effectively and efficiently carry out the aims of the POPs treaty. We would be happy to share that analysis upon completion.
Research Program to Support POPs Convention
WWF is pleased to see that S. 2118 calls for a program of scientific research to assist the U.S. Government in meeting its obligations under the POPs treaty. The bill directs the National Academy of Sciences to review scientific models and testing methods for screening candidate POPs; to propose alternative designs for a global monitoring program on persistent and bioaccumulative substances; and to recommend priority POPs chemical substances or mixtures for possible nomination to the POPRC.
WWF strongly supports these provisions, which are described in Section 107 of the bill. While not essential to the legislation amending TSCA and FIFRA, the research provisions are a valuable complement to POPs treaty implementation. They will help ensure that proposals for subsequent additions to the treaty target the worst offenders and are supported by sound testing methods, risk assessment models, and environmental monitoring techniques. Carrying out this program of rigorous scientific research on POPs places the United States in a strong position not only to nominate the most appropriate candidates for future POPs but also to question any proposed listings that are based on misguided information or inaccurate data.
The Chairman's bill also very appropriately calls upon the Administrator of EPA to submit no later than 90 days after enactment of S. 2118 the agency's final exposure and human health reassessment of 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-Dioxin (TCDD) and related compounds, which are among the most dangerous POPs. In this regard, less than two weeks ago the U.S. General Accounting Office released a report, "Environmental Health Risks: Information on EPA's Draft Assessment of Dioxins." In its transmittal letter, the GAO notes that, according to EPA officials, the assessment will conclude that (p. 1)
dioxins may adversely affect human health at lower exposure levels than previously thought and that most exposure to dioxins occurs from eating such dietary staples as meats, fish, and dairy products, which contain minute traces of dioxin. These foods contain dioxins because animals eat plants and commercial feed, and drink water contaminated with dioxins, which then accumulate in animals' fatty tissue.
The GAO report is significant in that it endorses the work undertaken thus far by EPA and provides a solid basis for the long-awaited reassessment to be expeditiously completed and released. Release of the dioxin reassessment will contribute important information relevant to actions that may be required to address dioxins and other unwanted byproducts under the POPs treaty, measures that would benefit citizens in the United States and other countries.
LRTAP POPs Protocol
WWF also supports the inclusion of implementing legislation for the Economic Commission for Europe's Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) POPs Protocol. An outgrowth of scientific findings linking sulfur emissions in continental Europe to acid deposition in Scandinavian lakes, LRTAP was the first legally-binding agreement to address air pollution problems on a broad regional basis. Parties to LRTAP include the United States, Canada, and Western and Eastern European countries including Russia.
The LRTAP POPs Protocol -- the first legally-binding multi-lateral instrument on POPs -- was added in 1998. It targets 16 substances including the 12 POPs chemicals plus chlordecone, hexabromobiphenyl, and hexachlorocyclohexane (including lindane). It also includes obligations to reduce emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which -- as with other byproduct chemicals -- do not require changes to TSCA or FIFRA. Although the LRTAP POPs Protocol includes more chemicals than the POPs treaty, it is not a replacement. LRTAP deals with transmission of POPs through only a single medium (air); confines its reach to northern, largely European countries; and does not address many of the issues involving developing countries.
To date, eight countries have ratified the LRTAP POPs Protocol out of 15 needed for entry-into-force. WWF would welcome U.S. participation in these regional efforts. Given POPs' global reach, however, a realistic and comprehensive solution needs to include developing countries as well. The United States and other donor countries must assist the developing world in coming to grips with the POPs problem -- and the global POPs treaty is the ideal vehicle through which to do this.
Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent
We are pleased to see that the Administration has bundled the Rotterdam PIC Convention in its implementing legislation alongside the POPs treaty and the LRTAP POPs Protocol. The PIC treaty alerts governments as to what chemicals are banned or severely restricted, by which governments, and for what reasons. The cornerstone of the treaty is prior informed consent, a procedure that enables Parties to review basic health and environmental data on specified chemicals and to permit or refuse any incoming shipments of those chemicals. Each Party’s decisions are disseminated widely, allowing those countries with less advanced regulatory systems to benefit from the assessments of those with more sophisticated facilities. Instituting PIC is a critical first step in the process of improving chemical management capacity.
The PIC treaty includes provisions for:
· alerting countries when there is an impending import of a chemical which has been banned or severely restricted in the exporting country;
· labeling hazards to human health or the environment; and
· exchanging information about toxicological findings and domestic regulatory action.
Ultimately the Rotterdam Convention will replace the voluntary PIC procedure, which has been operated by UNEP and FAO since 1989. Governments have elected to follow the new PIC procedures during this interim period before the Convention enters into force.
The PIC treaty makes an important contribution to global chemicals management by drawing attention to those substances causing the greatest harm, disseminating that information, and facilitating national decision-making on chemical imports. To date, the Convention has 20 Parties out of 50 required for entry into force. As with the POPs treaty, WWF would like to see the United States ratify PIC prior to the Johannesburg Summit, and we therefore support the Bush Administration's decision to bundle PIC for the purpose of Senate "advice and consent" and implementing legislation.
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Many of the POPs-, LRTAP-, and PIC-related legislative provisions are inter-related. WWF would be happy to work with E&PW staff to help ensure that the implementing legislation facilitates rather than hinders the efficient working of these laws.
In closing, we wish to applaud Chairman Jeffords and Committee staff for the hard work and initiative that went into introducing this legislation. Full implementation of these agreements is essential to protecting the American people from the threat of POPs and other toxic substances.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I would be happy to answer any questions.
Attachment: POPs "Toxics Hot Spots" brochure/map.