Leahy Slams ‘Midnight’ Bid To Relax Mercury-In-Fish Warnings To Women And Children

[The Washington Post Friday reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the White House are considering easing the official advisory cautioning women and children about mercury in certain fish.  Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency reportedly are concerned about the move to relax the warning.  The move is one of several “midnight” rules and policy changes in the pipeline in the waning days of the Bush Administration.  Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), long a leader on mercury pollution policy, issued the following comments:]


“The issue of mercury has become Exhibit A of the cozy way the Bush Administration has put special interests above the public’s health when it comes to environmental policy.  They have done the bidding of the big polluters, even effectively letting them write clean air and water rules.  Once again the Bush Administration seems intent on ignoring sound science on mercury poisoning.  First they tried to ignore the Clean Air Act to go easy on mercury and other harmful pollutants spewed from power plants.  Congress and the courts had to step in to halt that effort.  Now, in the administration’s 11th hour, they are quietly trying to water down advisories for women and children about the dangers of mercury in fish, disregarding sound science on this issue.  Mercury is a potent neurotoxin capable of impairing childhood development at very low levels.  This backroom bouquet for special interests should be stopped in its tracks.  If they slip this through, I will work with the incoming Obama Administration to restore science-based decisions on mercury.”


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