Members of Congress, Obama Administration Go to Bat For Billionaire Investor

Doe Run Peru shutdown the smelter in 2009, citing a drop in commodity prices due to the global economic crisis. It continues to pay the employees in La Oroya and says it is committed to starting up operations again.

A spokesman for the Peruvian embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Shea also called criticism of Renco Group's environmental record "ill-informed." The company claims to have spent "an excess of $700 million on environmental improvement projects since 1990."

With regards to the Utah operation, Shea said that Renco "directed in excess of $70 million to capital projects related to improving environmental performance and energy conservation through technology improvements. Chlorine emissions have been reduced 99 percent from 1989 levels andtotal air emissions from the cells have been reduced by 95 percent."

In Peru, the company said its investments "represent more than four times what the company was advised by the government would be needed to complete the environmental work when it purchased the facility in 1997. Doe Run Peru efforts have resulted in a more than 60% reduction in the total particle matter since 1999, and more than 25% reduction in sulfur dioxide during the same period."

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