The American Hospital Association is backing out of an agreement with the U.S. EPA that would have cut hospital waste in half by the end of the decade. The agreement was signed to much fanfare in 1998, and then-Vice President Al Gore called attention to it in an award ceremony the following year. Under the memo of understanding with the EPA, hospitals also would have eliminated their toxic emissions by 2005. In 1998, hospitals contributed about one-tenth of the country’s airborne mercury pollution. AHA spokeswoman Alicia Mitchell said the association “remain[ed] committed to the goals” of the memo, but no longer thought a formal agreement with the EPA was necessary.