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EPW Committee Passes Legislation to Protect Communities from Perchlorate, TCE and Mercury
Other Measures Target Environmental Justice, Great Lakes Cleanup, Hazardous Waste Tracking
July 31, 2008

Washington, DC - Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed legislation that address toxic substances in drinking water, including perchlorate, and trichloroethylene (TCE), as well as measures to limit the export and release of toxic mercury, advance environmental justice issues, address tracking of hazardous waste, clean up the Great Lakes and improve sanitation systems for rural and native villages in Alaska.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee said: "The bills approved by the Environment and Public Works Committee today tackle some of the most dangerous pollution threatening our families and communities."

Protecting Communities from Perchlorate

The committee passed two bills today that were introduced by Senator Boxer on the first day of the 110th Congress to protect the public from exposure to perchlorate, a toxic component of rocket fuel that contaminates drinking water systems in 35 states, including California:

· S.24, the Perchlorate Monitoring and Right to Know Act requires EPA to reestablish its previous perchlorate in drinking water monitoring rule, until a drinking water standard requires monitoring. It also requires that people be told about perchlorate contamination in their drinking water.

· S. 150, Protecting Pregnant Women and Children from Perchlorate Act in January of 2007 requires the EPA to promptly create a perchlorate health advisory and then a drinking water standard, both of which must protect vulnerable persons, including pregnant women and children.

Limiting the Use of Mercury

S. 906, the Mercury Market Minimization Act, prohibits the export of elemental mercury from the United States, and prohibits federal agencies from selling elemental mercury, in order to help reduce exposure to this dangerous toxin worldwide.

Safeguarding women and children from exposure to TCE

S. 1911, The TCE Reduction Act, would force EPA to update tap water standards to protect people, including susceptible populations, such as pregnant women, infants and children, from Trichloroethylene (TCE), a solvent that is the most common organic groundwater contaminant in the United States, and which causes cancer, including childhood cancer, and birth defects. The bill also requires EPA to set a "health advisory" that warns people at what level TCE is dangerous.

Advancing Environmental Justice

S. 2549, The Environmental Justice Renewal Act, requires federal agencies to implement plans to identify and then reduce or eliminate environmental justice threats, and to expand their efforts to gather information about environmental justice problems and help develop solutions to such serious issues. This will help protect those populations that are disproportionately burdened by pollution.

S. 642, The Environmental Justice Act of 2007, requires implementation of the Clinton Executive Order on environmental justice, and strengthens federal efforts to address environmental justice problems. It also requires agencies to implement environmental justice recommendations from the Government Accountability Office and EPA's Inspector General.

E-Manifest for Hazardous Waste

S. 3109, Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act, would authorize an electronic manifest system to track hazardous waste shipments to protect public health and the environment, while reducing paperwork, and improving government and public access to data.

Providing Grants for Drinking Water and Sanitation

S. 1933, the Small Community Drinking Water Funding Act, requires the Administrator of the EPA to establish a Small Public Water System Assistance Program, including a program for Indian tribes, to assist small water systems in complying with national primary drinking water regulations. The bill provides an authorization of $750 million annually for seven years.

S. 199, Rural Alaska Native Village Water and Sewer Bill, modifies grant programs under the Safe Drinking Water Act to help improve sanitation in rural and Native villages in the State of Alaska.

Cleaning up the Great Lakes

S.2994, Great Lakes Legacy Act reauthorizes the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002 and expands the existing program to improve environmental and water quality in the Great Lakes by greatly reducing contaminated sediments in the Lakes.

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July 2008 Press Releases

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