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Statement of EWG Action Fund President Ken Cook
Bush Administration Policy on Mercury
National Press Club News Conference with MoveOn

What is it with the Bush Administration and heavy metals?

First, and notoriously, they delayed safety standards for arsenic in water. Then they stacked a scientific panel with industry-friendly experts to evaluate the risks from lead.

And now a series of rollbacks and regulatory retreats on clean air will result in more mercury coming out of power plant smokestacks, eventually ending up at the end of our forks in tuna and other fish at unsafe levels for decades to come.

When it comes to heavy metal contamination, the first reflex of the Bush Administration has been to protect polluters instead of the public's health.

The rest of America knows arsenic is dangerous. They've seen the play ("Arsenic and Old Lace") at their local high school.

Society has long been worried about the dangers of lead. And I don't mean since the Clintons. I mean since the Romans.

And a series of reviews by scientists at the EPA, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Centers for Disease Control makes clear that mercury from air pollution and other sources contaminates fish, posing a serious human health risk.

But the Bush Administration just doesn't get it.

The more independent scientists learn about arsenic, lead and mercury, the more concerned they become. And in each case, their main concern is the risks these contaminants pose to infants and children.

The American public should be asking why this Administration is allowing power companies and the coal industry to pollute an important and popular source of protein with a toxic, heavy metal like mercury. Americans should be asking, how many more decades do we have to wait for power companies to clean up their act, our air, and our food? When will the Administration stop asking polluters what to do, and start telling them what to do, as our clean air laws require: Protect our health from toxic contaminants like mercury.

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