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Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, The White House, Washington, D.C.

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
regarding the
Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
The White House

April 19, 2001

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary: First I would like to say that I will be honored to represent the United States in Stockholm next month to sign the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. It represents a promise and a commitment to good, global environmental stewardship.

This treaty will offer new a level of environmental and public health protection to the people of the United States.

By severely restricting – and in some cases eliminating – the production, use, and/or release of the 12 chemicals covered, this treaty will help ensure that the American people are protected from the dangers these chemicals present.

As the President mentioned, POPs have been linked to numerous adverse effects in humans and animals. These include cancer, central nervous system damage, reproductive disorders, and immune system disruption.

Here at home, the United States has already taken extensive action over many years to address the pollutants covered by this treaty. Registrations for the nine pesticides covered in the treaty have been cancelled. We have banned the manufacture of PCBs, and we have imposed stringent controls on releases of the other covered chemicals.

Our experience shows that effective, safer substitutes for these chemicals do exist. That’s knowledge I know we look forward to sharing with those nations that can benefit from the work we’ve already done.

Clearly, domestic action alone is not sufficient. These chemicals not only persist in the environment for years and even decades, they also travel far beyond their initial point of release, posing threats across national and geographic boundaries. POPs have even been found in the Arctic.

By addressing on a global scale the threats these “dirty dozen” pose, we are helping to meet our goal of leaving America’s air cleaner, our water purer, and our land better protected.

I want to applaud the President for his vision in putting the United States squarely on the side of protecting the environment and human health.
I have every confidence that with his leadership, the United States will play a major international role in meeting the sacred obligation we all have to preserving and protecting the Earth and all its inhabitants from the threats of pollution.

Thank you.