< Back to S. 1183 (112th Congress, 2011–2013)

Text of the Comprehensive National Mercury Monitoring Act

This bill was introduced on June 13, 2011, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Jun 13, 2011 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

II

112th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 1183

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

June 13, 2011

(for herself and Mr. Carper) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works

A BILL

To establish a national mercury monitoring program, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Comprehensive National Mercury Monitoring Act.

2.

Findings

Congress finds that—

(1)

mercury is a potent neurotoxin of significant ecological and public health concern;

(2)

it is estimated that approximately 410,000 children born each year in the United States are exposed to levels of mercury in the womb that are high enough to impair neurological development;

(3)

the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that 6 percent of women in the United States of childbearing age have blood mercury levels in excess of values determined to be safe by the Environmental Protection Agency;

(4)

exposure to mercury occurs largely by consumption of contaminated fish, but fish and shellfish are important sources of dietary protein, and a healthy fishing resource is important to the economy of the United States;

(5)

in many locations, the primary route for mercury input to aquatic ecosystems is atmospheric emissions, transport, and deposition;

(6)

computer models and other assessment tools provide varying effectiveness in predicting mercury concentrations in fish, and broad-scale data sets are insufficient to test model predictions; and

(7)

a comprehensive national mercury monitoring network to accurately quantify regional and national changes in atmospheric deposition, ecosystem contamination, and bioaccumulation of mercury in fish and wildlife in response to changes in mercury emissions would help policy makers, scientists, and the public to better understand the sources, consequences, and trends in United States mercury pollution.

3.

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

Administrator

The term Administrator means the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

(2)

Program

The term program means the national mercury monitoring program established under section 4.

(3)

Advisory committee

The term Advisory Committee means the Mercury Monitoring Advisory Committee established under section 5.

(4)

Ancillary measure

The term ancillary measure means a measure that is used to understand the impact and interpret results of measurements under the program.

(5)

Ecoregion

The term ecoregion means a large area of land and water that contains a geographically distinct assemblage of natural communities, including similar land forms, climate, ecological processes, and vegetation.

(6)

Mercury export

The term mercury export means mercury flux from a watershed to the corresponding water body, or from one water body to another water body (such as a lake to a river), generally expressed as mass per unit of time.

(7)

Mercury flux

The term mercury flux means the rate of transfer of mercury between ecosystem components (such as between water and air), or between portions of ecosystem components, expressed in terms of mass per unit of time or mass per unit of area per time.

(8)

Surface sediment

The term surface sediment means sediment in the uppermost 2 centimeters of a lakebed or riverbed.

4.

Monitoring program

(a)

Establishment

(1)

In general

The Administrator, in consultation with the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Director of the United States Geological Survey, the Director of the National Park Service, the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the heads of other appropriate Federal agencies, shall establish a national mercury monitoring program.

(2)

Purpose

The purpose of the program is to track—

(A)

long-term trends in atmospheric mercury concentrations and deposition; and

(B)

mercury levels in watersheds, surface water, and fish and wildlife in terrestrial, freshwater, and coastal ecosystems in response to changing mercury emissions over time.

(3)

Monitoring sites

(A)

In general

In carrying out paragraph (1), not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act and in coordination with the Advisory Committee, the Administrator shall select multiple monitoring sites representing multiple ecoregions of the United States.

(B)

Locations

Locations of monitoring sites shall include National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, National Estuarine Research Reserve units, and sensitive ecological areas in which substantive changes are expected from reductions in domestic mercury emissions.

(C)

Colocation

Monitoring sites shall be colocated with sites from other long-term environmental monitoring programs, where practicable, including sites associated with the National Ecological Observatory Network, Long-Term Ecological Research Network, and the National Atmospheric Deposition Program.

(D)

Monitoring protocols

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator, in coordination with the Advisory Committee, shall establish and publish standardized measurement protocols for the program under this Act.

(4)

Data collection and distribution

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator, in coordination with the Advisory Committee, shall establish a centralized database for existing and newly collected environmental mercury data that can be freely accessed on the Internet once data assurance and quality standards established by the Administrator are met.

(b)

Functions

(1)

In general

Under the program, the Administrator, in consultation with the appropriate Federal agencies and the Advisory Committee, shall at a minimum carry out monitoring described in paragraphs (2) through (4) at the locations selected under subsection (a)(3).

(2)

Air and Watersheds

The program shall monitor long-term changes in mercury levels and important ancillary measures in the air, including—

(A)

the measurement and recording of wet and estimation of dry mercury deposition, mercury flux, and mercury export;

(B)

the measurement and recording of the level of mercury reemitted from aquatic and terrestrial environments into the atmosphere; and

(C)

the measurement of sulfur species and ancillary measurements to fully understand the cycling of mercury through the ecosystem.

(3)

Water and Soil Chemistry

The program shall monitor long-term changes in mercury and methyl mercury levels and important ancillary measures in the water and soil or sediments, including—

(A)

extraction and analysis of soil and sediment cores;

(B)

measurement and recording of total mercury and methyl mercury concentration, and percent methyl mercury in surface sediments;

(C)

measurement and recording of total mercury and methyl mercury concentration in surface water; and

(D)

measurement and recording of total mercury and methyl mercury concentrations throughout the water column and sediments.

(4)

Aquatic and Terrestrial Organisms

The program shall monitor long-term changes in mercury and methyl mercury levels and important ancillary measures in the aquatic and terrestrial organisms, including—

(A)

measurement and recording of total mercury and methyl mercury concentrations in—

(i)

zooplankton and other invertebrates;

(ii)

yearling fish; and

(iii)

commercially, recreationally, or conservation relevant fish; and

(B)

measurement and recording of total mercury concentrations in—

(i)

selected insect- and fish-eating birds; and

(ii)

measurement and recording of total mercury concentrations in selected insect- and fish-eating mammals.

5.

Advisory committee

(a)

Establishment

The Administrator, in consultation with the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Director of the United States Geological Survey, the Director of the National Park Service, the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the heads of other appropriate Federal agencies, shall establish a scientific advisory committee, to be known as the Mercury Monitoring Advisory Committee, to advise the Administrator and those Federal agencies on the establishment, site selection, measurement, recording protocols, and operation of the national mercury monitoring program.

(b)

Membership

The Advisory Committee shall consist of scientists who are not employees of the Federal Government, including—

(1)

3 scientists appointed by the Administrator;

(2)

2 scientists appointed by the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service;

(3)

2 scientists appointed by the Director of the United States Geological Survey;

(4)

2 scientists appointed by the Director of the National Park Service; and

(5)

2 scientists appointed by the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

6.

Reports and public disclosure

(a)

Reports

Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act and every 2 years thereafter, the Administrator shall submit to Congress a report on the program, including trend data.

(b)

Assessment

At least once every 4 years, the report required under subsection (a) shall include an assessment of the reduction in mercury deposition rates that are required to be achieved in order to prevent adverse human and ecological effects.

(c)

Availability of Data

The Administrator shall make all data obtained under this Act available to the public through a dedicated website and on written request.

7.

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act—

(1)

$37,000,000 for fiscal year 2012;

(2)

$29,000,000 for fiscal year 2013; and

(3)

$29,000,000 for fiscal year 2014.