Obama-sponsored Mercury Storage Bill Sent to White House

by The Environmentalist Staff

A bipartisan bill sponsored by Senator Barack Obama that will ban the sale of toxic mercury abroad in 2013 has been sent to the White House for signature:
Stockpiles of toxic mercury kept by industry soon will be stored safely in the United States instead of ending up on the world market where it might pollute the environment.

Under bipartisan legislation Congress sent to President George W. Bush Monday for his expected signature, mercury exports would be banned in 2013 and the Energy Department would be required to store the heavy metal permanently.

The bill's chief sponsor, Sen. Barack Obama, introduced the bill in response to a 2005 [Chicago] Tribune series about mercury contamination in fish.
"We know that mercury can cause serious developmental problems in children and problems affecting vision, motor skills, blood pressure and fertility in adults," Obama said in a statement. "While the United States has improved its efforts to collect and contain mercury, this country remains one of the leading exporters of this dangerous product."

Senator Obama, in conjunction with other lawmakers, had previously worked to obtain an agreement from the Energy Department earlier this year to keep its own 2,600,000 lb stockpile off the market. This new legislation will address both the Energy Department's stockpile and the mercury used by industry by requiring its permanent stockpile within the United States.

The Obama bill passed the Senate on Friday. It is co-sponsored by Democratic Congressman Rep. Tom Allen, of Maine, and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska.

The bipartisan bill is expected to be signed by President Bush.