Tuesday, December 19, 2006

NRDC Says Methyl Bromide Exemptions Are Unnecessary

Dec 13: Commenting on U.S. EPA's announced exemptions allowing the production and importation of 9.48 million pounds of the ozone-depleting chemical methyl bromide in 2007 [See WIMS 12/14/06, 12/12/06, & 11/14/06], David Doniger, policy director for the Climate Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said, "There is enough methyl bromide sitting in railroad tankers and other storage depots to take care of every farmer with a real need for it. With the ozone layer in such serious trouble, the EPA shouldn't allow chemical companies to make even more."

Methyl bromide was supposed to be banned after 2004 under the ozone the Montreal Protocol, and the Clean Air Act. The Montreal treaty and the Clean Air Act allow exemptions only for "critical uses" -- where there are no alternatives. NRDC said EPA continues to allow farmers and agribusinesses who were not given critical exemptions to continue drawing millions of pounds of the chemical from the stockpiles, totaling as much as 6 million pounds in 2005.

The group said, two chemical companies stand to gain the most from what they called the government's "treaty violations" - a chemical maker called Chemtura (formerly called Great Lakes Chemicals), and an importer, Ameribrom (importing methyl bromide from Israel). NRDC said they will earn between $60 million and $80 million from the approximately 20 million pounds of bonus production over the next two years. Methyl bromide currently sells for $3-$4 per pound, but has sold for much more in the past few years, when unnecessary production was occurring.

NRDC said Dow Agrosciences and other companies currently produce viable alternatives to methyl bromide. Doniger said, "EPA is allowing a kind of 'black market' where those who are not supposed to be using this ozone-destroying chemical anymore can still get as much as they want from the stockpiles. There are alternatives, and farmers have been switching to them for years. It's time to stop coddling the laggards and support the leaders."

Access an NRDC release (click here). Access an EPA 11/13/06 release (click here). Access an EPA 12/12/06 release (click here). Access EPA's 12/14/06 FR announcement [71 FR 75385-75406] (click here). Access EPA's MeBr Phaseout website for further details (click here). Access the Montreal Protocol website for additional information (click here). [*Climate, *Toxics]

Note: During the holidays while we are on our annual break, we will be posting some articles from recent issues of our daily newsletters. We will return with timely daily posts each day on January 2, 2006.

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