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The Bush administration's environmental record: Methyl Bromide

 
  

Project: The Bush administration's environmental record

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February 7, 2003

       The Bush administration seeks exemptions from the Montreal Protocol on behalf of 54 US companies and trade groups. The international agreement seeks to phase-out the pesticide methyl bromide—a clear, odorless fumigant that is a major ozone depletor and known carcinogen—by 2005. [New York Times, 2/7/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.; Natural Resources Defense Council, 2/7/2003; Panna, 2/7/2003] The administration's request cites a loophole in the protocol which allows countries to seek exemptions for “critical uses,” as long as they do not represent more than 30 percent of their baseline production level. But the Bush administration's request amounts to 39 percent. [New York Times, 2/7/2004; Natural Resources Defense Council, 2/7/2003; Panna, 2/7/2003] The businesses applying for the exemptions, primarily farmers and food producers, would be permitted to use up to 21.9 million pounds of methyl bromide for the year 2005 (see (February 28, 2004)). [New York Times, 3/4/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

(February 28, 2004)

       The Bush administration files a request with the United Nations for additional exemptions from the Montreal Protocol's phase-out of the pesticide methyl bromide. In February 2003, the US applied for exemptions for 54 businesses, primarily farmers and food producers, to use some 21.9 million pounds of methyl bromide for the year 2005 (see February 7, 2003). The new request would add 1.1 million pounds to this figure, to be used by producers of cut flowers, processed meats and tobacco seedlings. Though the signatories of the treaty are permitted exemptions for “critical uses” —as long as the requested exemptions do not represent more than 30 percent of a country's baseline production level—the US requests both exceed the allowable limit and twice the sum of requests from all other countries. “[T]he exemptions sought by the United States for 2005 and 2006 would cause a surge in American use of methyl bromide after steady declines,” notes the New York Times. [New York Times, 3/4/2004; League of Conservation Voters, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          

March 24-26, 2004

       Signatories to the Montreal Protocol meet in Montreal to negotiate the awarding of “critical use” exemptions for the pesticide methyl bromide (see February 7, 2003) (see (February 28, 2004)). On the last day, an agreement is reached granting 12 industrialized countries exemptions which will allow them to use 13,438 metric tons of methyl bromide for the year 2005. The countries are Australia (145 metric tons), Belgium (47), Canada (56), France (407), Greece (186), Italy (2,133), Japan (284), the Netherlands, Portugal (50), Spain (1,059), the United Kingdom (129) and the United States (8,942). The total tonnage of methyl bromide that will be used by the United States is approximately twice that of all the others. [Environment News Service, 3/29/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration
          


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