MAC/20: Mines and Communities

US update

Published by MAC on 2007-06-08


US update

8th June 2007

An attempt by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and industry to weaken protections under the Clean Air Act seems finally to have reched a nemesis in yet another blow for the Bush regime. Sixteen US states have urged the EPA to tighten rules - deemed "legally flawed" which allow coal-fired power plants to escape stricter controls on their emissions.

Three city officials from Mexico and the US have joined in an historic first meeting to discuss how they can meet the threat from a possible re-opening of Asarco's notoriously polluting base metal smelters in Texas.

Eight US plants using mercury cells are near to closure: fears have been expressed that the waste mercury may end up in small-scale gold mining ventures in South America, Asia and Africa.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), such usage appears to be highest in China, which releases 200 to 250 metric tons into the atmosphere per year; Indonesia comes in second, with 100 to 150 metric tons of releases; while Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, Peru, the Philippines, Venezuela, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe each emit 10 to 30 metric tons per year.

China and Kyrgyzstan, says the UNEP, are the only states which continue to permit the mining of mercury.

A survey intended to gauge opinions on which governmen is most responsible for global warming, suggests that "educated" Chinese and Indian citizens may be more concerned about their own countries' global greenhouse emissions than those of the United States - although it's the worst culprit.

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