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Release Date: 09/17/2002
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Environmental News



Contact: David Deegan, 202-564-7839

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week is marking the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement designed to protect the ozone layer, which protects the earth from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. EPA is the federal agency responsible for ensuring the United States’ phaseout of ozone-depleting substances.

Commenting on the success to date of efforts to implement the ozone-protection treaty, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman said “The Montreal Protocol proves that market-based approaches to environmental protection work – and work well. Scientists, government, and industry have cooperated to create commercially-viable alternatives to ozone depleting chemicals – faster, better, and cheaper than anticipated.”

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed by the United States in 1987 under President Ronald Reagan, and to date has been ratified by 183 countries. Through active participation in negotiation and implementation of the Protocol, the United States has taken a leadership role in the global effort to protect the ozone layer. In the early 1990s, President George H.W. Bush was responsible for accelerating the phaseout of ozone-depleting substances and for expanding the list of regulated substances to include hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and methyl bromide.

The United States has implemented key parts of the Montreal Protocol faster and at less cost than originally anticipated. The phaseout of high-priority “Class I” substances such as CFCs has been accomplished four to six years faster, has included 13 more chemicals and cost significantly less than was predicted at the time the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments were enacted. EPA has also worked with industry to promote development of and ensure a smooth transition to alternatives to ozone depleting substances. During 2000 and 2001 alone, EPA helped bring to market 31 new, environmentally friendly alternatives to ozone depleting substances.

In the 1980s, scientists began accumulating evidence showing that the ozone layer was being depleted. Depletion of the ozone layer results in increased ultraviolet (UV) radiation reaching the Earth’s surface, which can lead to a greater chance of overexposure to UV radiation and the related health effects of skin cancer, cataracts, and immune suppression. Continued compliance with the Montreal Protocol will ultimately lead to reduced incidence of skin cancer, eye damage and other health effects related to exposure to the sun’s UV rays.

“Recovery of the ozone layer depends on continued compliance with the Montreal Protocol, particularly as developing countries begin their phaseout of ozone-depleting substances,” Whitman remarked. “The United States will continue to demonstrate global leadership by supporting the use of innovative ozone-protection technologies and approaches in both this country and in developing nations.”

For more information about the Montreal Protocol and EPA’s Stratospheric Ozone Protection Programs, see: .

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