EPA Slammed for Allowing Power Plants to Emit MercuryPublished by MAC on 2005-12-20
EPA Slammed for Allowing Power Plants to Emit Mercury
WASHINGTON, DC, December 20, 2005 (ENS) - A coalition of conservation groups, Native American tribes, and public health organizations is calling upon the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stay its decision to remove coal-fired power plants from a list of industries requiring protective emission standards.
EPA agreed to reconsider the decision last month, after the agency received petitions from 14 states, four tribes, and five environmental groups. Groups today called upon the agency to stay implementation of the decision and to "fully and fairly assess all the comments it receives and revaluate whether the delisting was lawful and appropriate."
"Power plants are a major source of mercury, lead, arsenic and dioxins," said Ann Brewster Weeks, litigation director for Clean Air Task Force. "EPA has failed to protect the public from these harmful pollutants. The agency should suspend its decision to deprive Americans of the protections that the Clean Air Act is supposed to guarantee."
"The bottom line is this: EPA faces a choice between protecting higher profits for electric utilities and protecting children's health," said John Suttles, an attorney with Southern Environmental Law Center. "So far, EPA has chosen to protect profits over children."
Instead of issuing the protective emission standards that the Clean Air Act requires, the EPA has chosen to require a cap-and-trade regime that critics say will delay mercury reductions from power plants for nearly 20 years. The EPA intends to establish a mercury credit market, where facilities can trade pollution credits. "Three of the top five dirtiest power plants in Texas will actually be able to increase mercury outputs under this program," the coalition says
"Mercury pollution is poisoning our lakes, rivers and streams and poses a serious health threat to millions of Americans," said Chesapeake Bay Foundation litigation director Jon Mueller. "EPA needs to protect our waters and our health from power plant pollution."
"There are fish consumption warnings for the Chesapeake Bay, thanks to mercury pollution from sources such as power plants," Mueller said. "EPA has done a pitiful job of reducing mercury from power plants with this rule."
Last month, the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators and the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials released a model rule that provides a menu of options for states to reduce harmful mercury emissions from power plants.
The model rule was written in response to EPA's decision last March to exempt power plants from the protective emission standards that the Clean Air Act requires for all other major sources of toxic air pollution.
"We want the agency to fulfil its legal obligation to write strong nationwide regulations that will at last provide the public health and environmental protections that the Clean Air Act was enacted to guarantee," said James Pew, an attorney