Senator John Kerry on Failure of Senate to Demand Administration Improve Mercury Rules

The Senate failed to pass S.J.Res. 20, today. It was “a challenge to the Bush administration’s strategy on mercury pollution, leaving intact federal rules that give power plants flexibility in how they reduce emissions of the dangerous toxin.”

Below is a statement from Senator John Kerry on today’s vote in the Senate to demand the Bush Administration change its mercury rules. The measure failed on a vote of 51-47.

Washington really failed the American people on this one. We had a unique opportunity to send President Bush back to the drawing board with his flawed mercury plan but we lost. The real losers, however, are American families, especially those in New England. The Merrimack River Valley in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and the Penobscot River area in Maine have been classified as ‘bio-hotspots’ due to dangerously high levels of mercury.

The number of babies with dangerous levels of mercury in their blood has doubled. Every year more than 600,000 infants are born with dangerously high mercury levels. One in six women of child bearing age in the United States carries enough accumulated mercury in her body to pose health risks to her children should she become pregnant. The National Academy of Sciences has confirmed that unsafe levels of mercury in fish can directly lead to learning disabilities, seizures and cerebral palsy in children. Forty-five states have fish advisories for mercury warning pregnant women and children to limit their consumption of many fish caught in freshwater.

“This is a simple question of right and wrong. Mercury pollution must be controlled better and faster. It’s unacceptable to allow President Bush to give the industry a pass when our children will pay the price.”

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