| Today I received an exciting email about H.R. 2190, the Mercury Pollution Reduction Act, a bill sponsored by IL Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. The bill passed the subcommittee on June 3, 2009 and it would be before the full Energy and Commerce Committee for markup today. That is, it was going to be - until the committee took it off of today's agenda.
There is more than one way for chlor-alkali plants to manufacture chlorine and caustic soda. One such way uses mercury, and only four remaining plants in the U.S. use that technology. The bill gives these plants 2 years to change over to a technology without mercury. It seems likely that during the committee markup, this 2 year deadline will be extended to some date in between 2 and 20 years from now. Let's hope they go with something closer to 2. If you recall previous news of very slight mercury contamination in high fructose corn syrup, that is because HFCS is made using caustic soda, which can be contaminated with mercury if mercury is used in its production process. You can read about a previous hearing on this bill here.
I called the House Energy and Commerce Committee and after they removed this bill from today's agenda, they did not reschedule the markup for it (yet). The bill has 44 cosponsors so far (which is more than double the 19 it had on the day of the hearing). You can also see more information about this bill and an action alert to call your representatives here. Given the fact that the markup's been rescheduled, I recommend emailing or faxing your reps instead of calling. If you would like to do more, then call (don't email) other members of Congress, particularly the ones named in the action alert (especially if they are from your state).