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3.4.04

We Don't Need No Stinking Tests

White House Undermined Chemical Tests, Report Says

A report released by a House committee on Thursday describes how the Bush administration worked with the United States chemical industry to undermine a European plan that would require all manufacturers to test industrial chemicals for their effect on public health before they were sold in Europe.

The administration had said publicly that the proposal last year would threaten the $20 billion in chemicals that the United States exports to Europe each year because the cost of testing would be prohibitive. Five years in the making, the proposal, which was revised and is still under consideration, would shift the burden to prove the safety of chemicals onto manufacturers instead of governments.

The lobbying efforts of the United States appear to have succeeded. The European Union revised the proposal, known as Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals, or Reach.


Shifting the burden indeed. While I'm skeptical of demands for total proof of safety (often you can't know all the details of how a product works without trying it out in the real world), I'm a bit dismayed that chemical companies operating in Europe have been getting what amounts to a huge subsidy by being able to push the public health costs and risks of their products onto the public. Take this as yet more proof that the Bush administration (as well as European governments) don't believe in the free market, since they're so intent on letting companies profit from externalities.

And speaking of the Bush administration trying to cut special deals for companies, it looks like some steps are being made in upholding the Montreal Protocol's methyl bromide ban (in the same sense that driving from Worcester to Springfield is a step in going to San Fransisco):

U.S. Trims Request For Exemptions From Pact On Saving Ozone Layer

The United States and 10 other nations agreed yesterday to reduce their requests for exemptions to a ban on methyl bromide, one of the last remaining ozone-destroying compounds being produced and used extensively in wealthy countries.

... The Bush administration had sought exemptions that would have increased use in 2005 to nearly 40 percent of 1991 levels. They agreed to a limit of 35 percent, with any amount above 30 percent coming from existing stockpiles and not new production.

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