Earthjustice: Stronger Pollution Controls Needed for Mercury Reductions

Air pollution control agency report goes further than EPA, more still needed


James Pew / James Cox, Earthjustice (202) 667-4500

Today the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators and the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials (STAPPA/ALAPCO) 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.

The following are statements from Earthjustice attorney James Pew, who represents various conservation groups in litigation challenging EPA’s mercury rule, and legislative counsel James Cox, who has worked on Capitol Hill to push for stronger protections against mercury emissions.

“EPA’s decision to create a special loophole for power plants’ toxic emissions violated federal law and betrayed the American people. STAPPA’s approach is a step towards undoing the damage, but there still remains much more to be done,” Earthjustice attorney James Pew said. We’re in court because we want EPA’s sweetheart deal with industry thrown out, and we want the agency to fulfill 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.”

“STAPPA’s alternative offers states a model for obtaining better and quicker mercury reductions than the program that EPA and industry collaborated on,” Earthjustice legislative counsel James Cox said. “But STAPPA’s model rule still would allow slower reductions in mercury emissions than those that are needed to keep Americans safe, and that industry can easily achieve. Further, the model rules don’t address the tons of arsenic, lead and other toxins that power plants emit.

“While we hope that states will use STAPPA’s rule as a model towards faster mercury reductions, we continue to push for a stronger mercury control plan that will result in significant declines of this and other toxic air pollutants.”

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