Bush Administration Hampers Crackdowns on Toxic Chemicals

For decades, the U.S. was a key player in international efforts to regulate the use of highly toxic chemicals, but under the Bush administration the country is acting mainly as a roadblock to these efforts, say critics. President Bush started off on the right foot with an announcement shortly before Earth Day 2001 that he would sign a global treaty banning 12 of the most dangerous such chemicals. “We must work to eliminate or at least to severely restrict the release of these toxins without delay,” he said. But three years later, the U.S. still hasn’t ratified the treaty, and in the meantime the Bushies have repeatedly sought to weaken or delay multinational efforts to tackle other toxic threats. The State Department has been lobbying heavily against a European Commission plan to have chemical companies that do business in the E.U. test the safety of their chemicals and submit the safety information to the commission. And just last week, the U.S. sought and won an exemption from the Montreal Protocol — the international treaty governing ozone-depleting chemicals — that will allow increased production of the highly toxic pesticide methyl bromide.