EMC votes to move forward on cancer risk; send in your thanks

In an unexpected vote today, the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) voted 4-1 to officially begin the process to reduce the risk of cancer-causing chemicals in Alabama’s water ways.

Leading the charge was Commissioner Kathleen Felker and Commission Vice Chair Laurel Gardner who argued for adopting a 1 in a million cancer risk for 57 of the carcinogens in Alabama’s waters (arsenic would remain at 1 in 100,000 under this new rule).

The vote comes after months of information from the original petitioning organizations (including Conservation Alabama, the Alabama Rivers Alliance, and 16 other groups), an advisory panel of experts, and cost analysis from some industries. Citing the voluminous information the EMC has received this year, the Commissioners argued that Alabama is at the lower end of the EPA allowable range for carcinogens in water, that there was very little evidence that such a change would harm Alabama economically, and that this was a policy decision the Commission should make for the public health of Alabama citizens. Commission Chair Scott Phillips and Commissioner John Lester joined Dr. Felker and Dr. Gardner in voting for the rulemaking process.

This is only a first step, but a huge first step, and we need to thank the Commissioners who voted this forward, and encourage those who voted against it and were absent to vote to officially adopt the rule in 2008.

Please send notes of thanks to the Commission for making this bold first step. Also, encourage Commissioner Sam Wainwright (who voted against going to rulemaking), Commissioners Anita Archie and Ken Hairston (who were absent), and all the commissioners to vote for this important petition when it comes back before the Commission for final adoption. You can send your notes of thanks to:

Mr. W. Scott Phillips, Chair
Dr. Laurel Gardner, Vice Chair
Mrs. Anita Archie
Dr. Kathleen Felker
Mr. Kenneth Hairston, Esq.
Dr. John Lester
Mr. Sam Wainwright

Alabama Environmental Management Commission
c/o Debi Thomas
P. O. Box 301463
Montgomery, AL 36130-1463
Fax: (334) 279-3052
Email: DST@adem.state.al.us

Once initiated, the ensuing rulemaking process officially takes 125 days. During that process, there will be additional opportunities for comment from the public. A final vote on this petition will occur no earlier than June 2008. We will keep you informed about opportunities to comment and when a final vote will occur. We need your support to ensure that risk from cancer-causing chemicals in Alabama’s waters is reduced.

Thank you for all your work this year to help get us to this positive vote. We wish you a happy holiday season, and we look forward to more victories like this one in 2008!

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