Wednesday, December 07, 2011

FLASH: at behest of dirty power companies, OMB staff presses EPA to weaken mercury standard for power plants

We have promised to keep our ear to the ground on the fierce lobbying on the EPA mercury/air toxic rule for power plants. There is an excellent story in today’s National Journal, but here is the very latest:

We are informed reliably that the White House Office of Management and Budget, at the behest of the coal-burning electric power industry, is now pushing the EPA to weaken its mercury pollution control requirements in its upcoming toxic pollution rule for power plants. Power companies could emit almost 20% more mercury under the dirty power industry scheme being promoted by OMB bean counters.

This is nothing short of outrageous. The White House should immediately disavow this latest attempt by OMB staffers to front for dirty industry. (You will recall the recent excellent report by the Center for Progressive Reform on the topic of OMB, its meetings with industry, and its impact on EPA. )

In this case, the real culprit is the dirty power industry, which continues to push not only for delays and loopholes, but for the right to spew out more toxic mercury.

The push for weaker standards initially came from the so-called Utility Air Regulatory Group, which called last August in its official comments to EPA for a weakening of the proposed mercury standard from 1.2 lb/TBtu to 1.42 – or going roughly from a 91% mercury control requirement to about 75%. This change would mean thousands of additional pounds of toxic mercury being spewed into the environment each year.

The current push is being driven principally by Southern Company and American Electric Power Company because they apparently believe a weaker standard would cost them less.

Some trade off: more brain poisons so a couple of big companies could save a few bucks.

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