IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
March 15, 2007
Mr. Obama (for himself and Ms. Murkowski) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works
To prohibit the sale, distribution, transfer, and export of elemental mercury, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Mercury Market Minimization Act of
Congress finds that—
mercury and mercury compounds are highly toxic to humans, ecosystems, and wildlife;
as many as 10 percent of women in the United States of childbearing age have mercury in the blood at a level that could put a baby at risk;
as many as 630,000 children born annually in the United States are at risk of neurological problems related to mercury;
the most significant source of mercury exposure to people in the United States is ingestion of mercury-contaminated fish;
the Environmental Protection Agency reports that, as of 2004—
44 States have fish advisories covering over 13,000,000 lake acres and over 750,000 river miles;
in 21 States the freshwater advisories are statewide; and
in 12 States the coastal advisories are statewide;
the long-term solution to mercury pollution is to minimize global mercury use and releases to eventually achieve reduced contamination levels in the environment, rather than reducing fish consumption since uncontaminated fish represents a critical and healthy source of nutrition worldwide;
mercury pollution is a transboundary pollutant, depositing locally, regionally, and globally, and affecting water bodies near industrial sources (including the Great Lakes) and remote areas (including the Arctic Circle);
the free trade of mercury and mercury compounds on the world market, at relatively low prices and in ready supply, encourages the continued use of mercury outside of the United States, often involving highly dispersive activities such as artisinal gold mining;
the intentional use of mercury is declining in the United States as a consequence of process changes to manufactured products (including batteries, paints, switches, and measuring devices), but those uses remain substantial in the developing world where releases from the products are extremely likely due to the limited pollution control and waste management infrastructures in those countries;
the member countries of the European Union collectively are the largest source of mercury exports globally;
the European Union is in the process of enacting legislation that will prohibit mercury exports by not later than 2011;
the United States is a net exporter of mercury and, according to the United States Geologic Survey, exported 506 metric tons of mercury more than the United States imported during the period of 2000 through 2004; and
banning exports of mercury from the United States will have a notable affect on the market availability of mercury and switching to affordable mercury alternatives in the developing world.
Prohibition on sale, distribution, or transfer of mercury by Department of Defense or Department of Energy
Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (15 U.S.C. 2605) is amended by adding at the end the following:
Prohibition on sale, distribution, or transfer of mercury by Federal agencies
Except as provided in paragraph (2), effective beginning on the date of enactment of this subsection, no Federal agency shall convey, sell, or distribute to any other Federal agency, any State or local government agency, or any private individual or entity any elemental mercury under the control or jurisdiction of the Federal agency.
Paragraph (1) shall not apply to a transfer between Federal agencies of elemental mercury for the sole purpose of facilitating storage of mercury to carry out this Act.
Prohibition on export of mercury
Section 12 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (15 U.S.C. 2611) is amended—
in subsection (a)
subsection (b) and inserting
and (c); and
by adding at the end the following:
Prohibition on export of mercury
Effective January 1, 2010, the export of elemental mercury from the United States is prohibited.
Report to Congress on mercury compounds
Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of the Mercury Market Minimization Act of 2007, the Administrator shall publish and submit to Congress a report on mercuric chloride, mercurous chloride or calomel, mercuric oxide, and other mercury compounds, if any, that may currently be used in significant quantities in products or processes.
The report shall include an analysis of—
the sources and amounts of each mercury compound produced annually in, or imported into, the United States;
the purposes for which each of the compounds are used domestically;
the quantity of the compounds currently consumed annually for each purpose; and
the estimated quantity of the compounds to be consumed for each purpose during calendar year 2010 and thereafter;
the sources and quantities of each mercury compound exported from the United States during each of the preceding 3 calendar years;
the potential for the compounds to be processed into elemental mercury after export from the United States; and
other information that Congress should consider in determining whether to extend the export prohibition to include 1 or more of those mercury compounds.
Except as provided in clause (ii), for the purpose of preparing the report under this paragraph, the Administrator may use the information gathering authorities of this title, including sections 10 and 11.
Subsection (b)(2) of section 11 shall not apply to activities under this subparagraph.
Excess Mercury Storage Advisory Committee
is established an advisory committee, to be known as the
Storage Advisory Committee (referred to in this paragraph as the
The Committee shall be composed of 9 members, of whom—
2 members shall be jointly appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Majority Leader of the Senate—
1 of whom shall be designated to serve as Chairperson of the Committee; and
1 of whom shall be designated to serve as Vice-Chairperson of the Committee;
1 member shall be the Administrator;
1 member shall be the Secretary of Defense;
1 member shall be a representative of State environmental agencies;
1 member shall be a representative of State attorneys general;
1 member shall be a representative of the chlorine industry;
1 member shall be a representative of the mercury waste treatment industry; and
1 member shall be a representative of a nonprofit environmental organization.
Not later than 45 days after the date of enactment of this subsection, the Administrator, in consultation with the appropriate congressional committees, shall appoint the members of the Committee described in subclauses (IV) through (VIII) of clause (i).
Not later than 30 days after the date on which all members of the Committee have been appointed, the Committee shall hold the initial meeting of the Committee.
The Committee shall meet at the call of the Chairperson.
A majority of the members of the Committee shall constitute a quorum.
Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this subsection, the Committee shall submit to Congress a report describing the findings and recommendations of the Committee, if any, relating to—
the environmental, health, and safety requirements necessary to prevent—
the release of elemental mercury into the environment; and
worker exposure from the storage of elemental mercury;
the estimated annual cost of storing elemental mercury on a per-pound or per-ton basis;
for the 40-year period beginning on the date of submission of the report, the optimal size, number, and other characteristics of Federal facilities required to store elemental mercury under current and anticipated jurisdictions of each Federal agency;
the estimated quantity of—
elemental mercury that will result from the decommissioning of mercury cell chlor-alkali facilities in the United States; and
any other supplies that may require storage to carry out this Act;
for the 40-year period beginning on the date of submission of the report, the estimated quantity of elemental mercury generated from the recycling of unwanted products and other wastes that will require storage to comply with the export prohibitions under this Act;
any legal, technical, economic, or other barrier that may prevent the private sector from storing elemental mercury produced by the private sector during the 40-year period beginning on the date of submission of the report, including a description of measures to address the barriers;
the advantages and disadvantages of consolidating the storage of mercury produced by public and private sources under the management of the public or private sector;
the optimal plan of the Committee for storing excess mercury produced by public and private sources; and
additional research, if any, required to determine a long-term disposal option for the storage of excess mercury.
Compensation of members
A member of the Committee who is not an officer or employee of the Federal Government shall be compensated at a rate equal to the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay prescribed for level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title 5, United States Code, for each day (including travel time) during which the member is engaged in the performance of the duties of the Committee.
A member of the Committee who is an officer or employee of the Federal Government shall serve without compensation in addition to the compensation received for the services of the member as an officer or employee of the Federal Government.
A member of the Committee shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates authorized for an employee of an agency under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, while away from the home or regular place of business of the member in the performance of the duties of the Committee.
Staff and funding
The Administrator shall provide to the Committee such funding and additional personnel as are necessary to enable the Committee to perform the duties of the Committee.
The Committee shall terminate 180 days after the date on which the Committee submits the report of the Committee under subparagraph (F).
Inapplicability of unreasonable risk requirement
Subsection (a) shall not apply to this subsection.