is the EPA's deadline to announce its plan for
regulating mercury from coal-burning power plants.
A leaked draft indicates it will downgrade mercury
as a toxin while weakening efforts to clean up
weakening comes just days after the Food and Drug
Administration announced that it plans to warn
women of child-bearing age and children to limit
consumption of canned tuna because of high levels
of mercury, which can cause learning disabilities
and other serious problems in fetuses and young
Dec. 5, the White House summoned EPA and FDA officials
to discuss the awkward timing of the contradictory
mercury announcements. White House officials wanted
the two agencies to brief them "to ensure federal
communication about mercury risks can be defended,"
according to the trade publication Inside EPA.
one's saying what happened at the meeting," Michael
Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project,
told BushGreenwatch.org. "What we do know is that
President Bush's EPA is slated today to formally
announce a dramatic weakening of emission limits
for mercury, a potent poison for children and
the unborn, from coal burning. It presents the
appearance, and perhaps the reality, of allowing
children to be poisoned for the sake of campaign
Bush has been by far the top recipient of campaign
contributions from electric utilities since 2000.
White House records show that while utility representatives
were invited to discuss the mercury emission proposal
with the White House several times this fall,
no consumer or public health groups were included.
is emitted by coal-fired power plants and is converted
into a more toxic form when it hits water, where
it accumulates in fish. When people eat contaminated
fish, like tuna, they ingest the toxin. Canned
tuna is the most-consumed fish by women and children,
the most vulnerable population, Bender said.
who benefits from the Administration's mercury
Company, for one. Five of the coal-burning utility's
executives or lobbyists are also among the elite
group of President Bush's fundraising Pioneers,
having raised $100,000 each toward his 2004 campaign.
Anthony Alexander of FirstEnergy also is a Pioneer,
as is Matthew Rose of Burlington Northern, which
makes money mining and shipping coal. Richard
Davidson of Union Pacific, another coal miner
and shipper, has done even better: he has raised
Posted: December 17, 2003