Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bush EPA ignores science -- and recent developments -- in reaffirming pro-industry mercury rule

The U.S. EPA has just put out a news release reaffirming the Bush administration’s bad, industry-friendly mercury pollution rule initially set in March 2005.

The Bush administration is ignoring science – and the obvious potential for better pollution cleanup. This is a classic case of the Bush administration harming the environment by currying favor with a powerful special interest – the coal-burning electric power industry.

The facts – and developments in the past year – show just how obviously a gift to the power industry this is.

When EPA first issued the rule, it claimed that no commercially available pollution controls were available to clean up mercury. Since that time, various commercial contracts have been announced – giving the lie to the EPA plan. (See some examples at

When EPA first issued the rule, it also claimed that its “cap-and-trade” plan would be just dandy – and that local pollution controls weren’t needed – because most of the mercury was allegedly coming from somewhere else. Since that time, EPA has found (in a study of Steubenville, Ohio), that localized reductions in mercury emissions would lead to less mercury in the local environment – thus giving the lie to the cap-and-trade plan.

The irony here is that the pro-industry Bush plan has triggered a rebellion by states.

As Rebecca Adams noted in a recent issue of CQ Weekly

“Twenty-one states - some with Republican governors, including New York, Maryland, Minnesota and Connecticut - have served notice to the administration that they will produce their own plans. Pennsylvania, which has a Democratic governor and the second-highest level of mercury emissions in the country, after Texas, is among the most aggressive dissenters, proposing to cut mercury levels by 90 percent by 2015. The state also wants to prohibit the trading of pollution credits among its 36 coal-fired power plants because officials say they believe it would leave pockets of mercury contamination near the dirtiest plants.”

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