The United States is once again missing a chance to save the earth by failing to adopt two key environmental treaties. The Stockholm Convention eliminates chemicals that the international community has agreed are extremely dangerous to human health and the environment. The Rotterdam Convention controls the international trade of highly toxic chemicals.
The Stockholm Convention bans persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These toxic substances are transported across the globe, persist in the environment, accumulate in the body fat of humans and animals, and concentrate up the food chain. The POPs treaty has been in force for two years. Even though the United States has banned these chemicals domestically, it refuses to adopt the treaty. And, contrary to the Rotterdam Convention, the United States continues to export millions of pounds of dangerous chemicals every year.
Washington’s inability to adopt these treaties—now ratified by 127 and 110 countries, respectively—constitutes a failure not only of U.S. leadership but of responsible participation in global efforts to protect human health.
• Congress should pass strong implementing legislation that does not weaken the Stockholm and Rotterdam conventions.
• Washington should empower progressive state actions rather than seeking to undermine them.
• The United States should phase out production and use of additional persistent chemicals that qualify as POPs under the Stockholm Convention.