GUAM’S UNDERWOOD SAYS SIERRA CLUB'S OPPOSITION TO EPA TERRITORIAL PCBREMOVAL RULE DISREGARDS WELL BEING OF ISLAND PEOPLE

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CONGRESSMAN ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD Delegate from Guam U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.

NEWS RELEASE December 8, 2000

GUAM’S UNDERWOOD SAYS SIERRA CLUB'S OPPOSITION TO EPA TERRITORIAL PCB REMOVAL RULE DISREGARDS WELL BEING OF ISLAND PEOPLE

Congressman Robert A. Underwood today characterized the Sierra Club/Earth Justice League's opposition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule for the disposal of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenols) from Guam and the other territories as hypocritical.

"I'm very disappointed that this so-called environmental organization, in the case of Guam, is more concerned about the well being of endangered species and hasn't acted on behalf of the well being and public health and safety of real live human beings. Their opposition is a clear indication of their hypocrisy," the Congressman said.

The proposed rule, which would allow PCB-contaminated materials from the territories outside the U.S. Customs Zone to be brought to the U.S. for disposal, was published the Federal Register on Nov. 1. A 30-day public comment period followed. Of the 13 comments submitted by the Dec. 1 deadline, only the Sierra Club's was negative, the Congressman said.

"It was submitted as a legal brief, indicating that they intend to challenge this in court as illegal and immoral," the Congressman said, adding that the Sierra Club took a narrow view of the federal toxic substance law in opposing promulgation of the new rule.

"There are many issues attendant to Guam's status outside the U.S. Customs Zone that are regulatory and based on law. I think a comprehensive review of what that means is necessary," the Congressman said, adding that he will undertake such a review as part of his agenda in the new congress.

The Department of Defense's submission was supportive, but its request to expand the rule was cause for concern, Underwood said. "DOD requested expanding the rule to include the importation of toxic substances from U.S. bases in foreign countries. That's an entirely separate issue and I don't think this rule should be used as the vehicle to respond to it," he said.

"I met with a number of EPA officials today, to indicate my concern and my earnest hope that EPA will nonetheless issue the regulation and that they would ignore the concerns of the Sierra Club. If that doesn't work out in Guam's favor, the remaining option for us is to fix it legislatively," Underwood said.

For additional information, contact: Cathy Gault at 671-477-4272

Washington office: 2418 Rayburn Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 Tel: 202-225-1188 Fax: 202-226-0341 Email: guamtodc@mail.house.gov 

Guam office: 120 Fr. Duenas Ave., Ste 107 Hagatna, GU 96932 Tel: 671-477-4272 Fax: 671-477-2587

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