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Monday, June 28, 2010

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs): Fact Sheet on Three International Agreements

Linda-Jo Schierow
Specialist in Environmental Policy

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are chemicals that do not break down easily in the environment, tend to accumulate as they move up the food chain, and may be harmful to people and wildlife. Between 1998 and 2001, the United States signed two international treaties and one executive agreement to reduce the production and use of POPs and to regulate the trade and disposal of them. President Bush signed and submitted the two treaties to the Senate for advice and consent. If the Senate consents by a two-thirds majority, and if Congress passes legislation that would be needed to implement the treaties and the executive agreement in the United States, then the treaties could be ratified and the agreements would become binding U.S. law. Two U.S. statutes are inconsistent with the agreements: the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which governs production and use of chemicals in U.S. commerce, and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which regulates the sale and use of pesticides within the United States. Proposals to amend these statutes were considered but not enacted in the 107th, 108th, and 109th Congresses. In the 111th Congress, S. 519 would amend pesticide law to permit implementation of the agreement, while S. 3209 would amend TSCA. A House draft bill that is posted on the website of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act, also would amend TSCA. Both TSCA bills would comprehensively revise current law, well beyond what might be necessary to allow treaty implementation.

Date of Report: June 15, 2010
Number of Pages: 4
Order Number: RS22379
Price: $19.95

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