Power plants are, collectively, the worst toxic emitters in the country. They emit more than 350,000 tons of toxic chemicals each year, including more than forty percent of all mercury emissions (approximately forty-eight tons per year), twenty percent of all arsenic emissions (approximately seventy tons per year) as well as more than eighty tons per year of both lead and chromium. In Earthjustice's previous power plants air toxics case, we successfully challenged EPA's decision to remove power plants from the list of industries for which air toxics standards are required -- a move that would have allowed the agency to delay and curtail reductions in power plants' mercury emissions and leave their emissions of arsenic, lead and other hazardous air pollutants wholly unregulated.
Because power plants remain on the list for which air toxics standards are required, EPA is subject to a mandatory Clean Air Act deadline for issuing such standards. In fact, a section of the Clean Air Act required EPA to issue standards within two years of the date it placed power plants on the list, December 20, 2000. EPA's power plants standards were due no later than December 20, 2002. To date, EPA has not complied with the law.
Earthjustice is suing on behalf of conservation groups to force EPA to set strong standards for power plants which would require deep reductions in mercury and other toxic air pollutants by a firm and enforceable deadline.
Somewhere along the road from their home districts to their offices in Washington, D.C., our Congressional representatives got their wires crossed. The American public sent them forth with a mandate to run the country, but instead, they're ruining it.