NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

GREAT LAKES GETTING CLEANER

August 1, 2005

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Environment Canada have announced good news about North America's environment. The "2004 Annual Progress Report on the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy," documents progress in dealing with a particularly nasty suite of persistent, toxic chemicals in the environment that become concentrated up the food chain.

These are pollutants of national and international concern, as they have pronounced effects on the biota and fisheries of the Great Lakes and the people who rely on them. According to the researchers:

  • Of the 17 reduction goals set forth for the top 12 substances back in 1997, ten have been met, three will be met by the 2006 target date and progress toward the remaining four will be well advanced.
  • The United States met its national mercury reduction goal of 50 percent while Canada has reached an 83 percent reduction in mercury, not far from their goal of 90 percent.
  • The United States projected a 92 percent reduction in nationwide releases of dioxins and furans by the end of 2004 (the actual figures have yet to be tabulated and released) against a goal of 75 percent by 2006; Canada stands at 84 percent and expects to meet its 2000 target of 90 percent by 2005.

According to G. Tracy Mehan III, an environmental consultant, many of these pollutants travel great distances in the air and some, such as mercury, travel globally. Nevertheless, he says, the 2004 report gives us a snapshot of tremendous progress that extends well beyond the Great Lakes region.

Source: G. Tracy Mehan III, "Great Lakes Getting Cleaner," Heartland Institute, Environment and Climate News, Vol. 8, No. 6, July 2005.

For 2004 Annual Progress Report on the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy:

http://binational.net/bns/2004/index.html

 

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