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Ask SEEC to Introduce a Better Electronic Waste Reform Bill

The current state of electronic waste recycling in America is shabby and shady. Most of the e-waste programs in the United States today take your old electronic gear and ship it overseas to places like China or Ghana, where workers are paid low wages to tear apart electronic devices, salvaging the expensive parts and burning the rest. These workers, often just children, breathe in burning plastic, wipe heavy metals off their arms, and live with lead swimming through their veins. The third world dumping system for ewaste recycling isn’t green; it’s a poisonous, sludgy grey.

H.R. 2595 claims it would stop the flow of this international toxic slurry. The first half of this bill making its way through the House of Representatives sounds pretty good. According to the first half of this bill, to the extent electronic waste is exported from the United States at all, it would have to be to member countries of the OECD or Liechtenstein. These nations are are legally prevented from diverting electronic waste to these third-world dumps, and or to Liechtenstein, which has adopted a strict regulatory scheme to make the recycling of electronic waste more socially responsible.

Sounds good, right?

Well, wait for the second half. As the Electronics Takeback Coalition notes, the second part of the bill allows electronic waste to continue to be exported to the third world nations for toxic processing, if only the companies exporting that waste keep a letter on file stating their intent that someone in that third world destination would repair or refurbish the item for resale. There needn’t be any documentation that refurbishing and resale actually takes place for the practice to continue… and not coincidentally, a large portion of American e-waste is already labeled that way, and then dismantled despite exporters’ declared “intention.”

In short, under this legislation, it looks like it’s possible for the same practices to go on as before. If you needed another sign that there’s something fishy going on with H.R. 2595, look to the bill’s supporters. Rep. Gene Green (the principal sponsor of H.R. 2595), and Sheila Jackson-Lee (one of four cosponsors) represent the Houston area, corporate home of Waste Management, Inc, which describes itself as “the nation’s only coast-to-coast electronics recycler.” Cosponsor Anna Eshoo represents the Silicon Valley district of California, filled with electronics corporations. Also telling is that not one of the members of SEEC, the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition of the Congress, has cosponsored H.R. 2595. The members of SEEC in the 111th Congress are:

Rep. Betsy Markey (D-CO, District 4). In-district phone: 970-221-7110. Progressive Action Score: 18/100
Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV, District 3). In-district phone: 702-387-4941. Progressive Action Score: 24/100
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO, District 7). In-district phone: 303-274-7944. Progressive Action Score: 24/100
Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH, District 15). In-district phone: 614-294-2196. Progressive Action Score: 24/100
Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM, District 1). In-district phone: 505-346-6781. Progressive Action Score: 24/100
Rep. Deborah Halvorson (D-IL, District 11). In-district phone: 815-726-4998. Progressive Action Score: 24/100
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ, District 8). In-district phone: 520-459-3115. Progressive Action Score: 24/100
Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-NY, District 24). In-district phone: 315-793-8146. Progressive Action Score: 24/100
Rep. James Langevin (D-RI, District 2). In-district phone: 401-732-9400. Progressive Action Score: 25/100
Rep. Ben Lujan (D-NM, District 3). In-district phone: 505-984-8950. Progressive Action Score: 29/100
Rep. James Himes (D-CT, District 4). In-district phone: 203-210-7711. Progressive Action Score: 29/100
Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA, District 1). In-district phone: 563-323-5988. Progressive Action Score: 29/100
Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV, District 1). In-district phone: 702-220-9823. Progressive Action Score: 29/100
Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH, District 2). In-district phone: 603-358-1023. Progressive Action Score: 33/100
Rep. John Hall (D-NY, District 19). In-district phone: 845-225-3641. Progressive Action Score: 33/100
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY, District 28). In-district phone: 716-282-1274. Progressive Action Score: 35/100
Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY, District 29). In-district phone: 585-218-0040. Progressive Action Score: 35/100
Rep. David Loebsack (D-IA, District 2). In-district phone: 319-351-0789. Progressive Action Score: 35/100
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX, District 25). In-district phone: 512-916-5921. Progressive Action Score: 35/100
Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA, District 5). In-district phone: 978-681-6200. Progressive Action Score: 41/100
Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY, District 2). In-district phone: 631-951-2210. Progressive Action Score: 41/100
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT, District 2). In-district phone: 860-886-0139. Progressive Action Score: 41/100
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA, District 11). In-district phone: 703-256-3071. Progressive Action Score: 41/100
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA, District 16). In-district phone: 408-271-8700. Progressive Action Score: 42/100
Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT, District 0). In-district phone: 888-605-7270. Progressive Action Score: 47/100
Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY, District 21). In-district phone: 518-465-0700. Progressive Action Score: 47/100
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO, District 2). In-district phone: 303-484-9596. Progressive Action Score: 47/100
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA, District 1). In-district phone: 206-361-0233. Progressive Action Score: 47/100
Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO, District 3). In-district phone: 314-962-1523. Progressive Action Score: 47/100
Rep. Timothy Bishop (D-NY, District 1). In-district phone: 631-696-6500. Progressive Action Score: 47/100
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME, District 1). In-district phone: 207-774-5019. Progressive Action Score: 53/100
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA, District 7). In-district phone: 206-553-7170. Progressive Action Score: 53/100
Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA, District 10). In-district phone: 800-870-2626. Progressive Action Score: 53/100
Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA, District 53). In-district phone: 619-280-5353. Progressive Action Score: 53/100
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI, District 2). In-district phone: 608-258-9800. Progressive Action Score: 53/100
Rep. John Olver (D-MA, District 1). In-district phone: 413-442-0946. Progressive Action Score: 59/100
Rep. George Miller (D-CA, District 7). In-district phone: 925-602-1880. Progressive Action Score: 59/100
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA, District 6). In-district phone: 707-542-7182. Progressive Action Score: 65/100
Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA, District 15). In-district phone: 408-558-8085. Progressive Action Score: 65/100
Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ, District 12). In-district phone: 609-750-9365. Progressive Action Score: 65/100
Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI, District 2). In-district phone: 808-541-1986. Progressive Action Score: 65/100
Rep. James McGovern (D-MA, District 3). In-district phone: 508-460-9292. Progressive Action Score: 76/100
Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL, District 9). In-district phone: 847-328-3409. Progressive Action Score: 82/100
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY, District 22). In-district phone: 607-273-1388. Progressive Action Score: 88/100

I’ve included the telephone numbers of these SEEC members as a prod to your activist backside. If your member of Congress is on this list, call him or her today and request that she or he get to work on a better bill for electronics recycling, a bill that makes the accomplishments of the first half of H.R. 2595 without tacking on a giant loophole to make reform meaningless.

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