WASHINGTON - August 24 - Statement of Carl Pope, Sierra Club's Executive Director
"Today the Environmental Protection Agency announced in its 2003 National Listing of Fish and Wildlife Advisories that 766,872 miles of America's rivers and 13,068,990 lake acres are contaminated with so much poisonous mercury that the fish aren't safe to eat -- that is a more than 60 percent increase for river miles and an eight percent increase for lake acres since the 2002 report.
"This increase is astounding considering that the technology exists right now that would put us on the road to cleaning up 90 percent of toxic mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by 2008. As America's waters get more contaminated, the Bush administration continues dragging its feet, even endorsing a plan that would delay cleaning up mercury emissions from power plants for at least a decade and setting targets so weak that the industry will be allowed to emit three times more mercury after 2018. This spring, more than half a million Americans let the administration know that this just isn't acceptable.
"Sadly, America's women and children are paying for the administration's procrastination. One in six American women has mercury levels in her blood high enough to leave her baby at risk from mercury poisoning. That puts nearly 630,000 newborns at risk each year from neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, delayed onset of walking and talking, and learning disabilities.
"More than half a million Americans sent a record number of public comments telling the Bush administration to get rid of the mercury pollution by simply enforcing the laws we have on the books. The Bush administration has run out of excuses; it's time to stop protecting polluters' bottom lines and start protecting our communities.