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States Limit Mercury Emissions While the Feds Fail to Act
J. Mijin Cha on February 22, 2007 - 11:29am
Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania sued the Bush Administration this week claiming they failed to adequately regulate emissions of mercury and other pollutants at older cement plant kilns. Last December, the EPA announced new limits on mercury and hydrocarbon emissions from cement kilns built after December 2, 2005, but left weak rules in place for kilns from before that date. The states argue that the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to limit mercury from all kilns, not just new ones.
The EPA's mercury reduction plan as a whole is lacking. In addition to weak regulations on cement kilns, the federal regulations concerning mercury emissions from coal fired power plants also fall short of the mark. Critics point out that newer emissions control technology could reduce mercury emissions from coal fired power plants between 75 and 90 percent in just the next few years. Trying to obscure this fact, the EPA distorted the analysis of its mercury pollution regulation plan to make it appear that the Bush administration's approach was superior to proposals supported by environmentalists, according to an analysis by the non-partisan General Accounting Office.
And again, it's been up to the states to take the lead and pick up the federal government's slack:
- Illinois Governor Blagojevich proposed a plan to cut mercury emissions from power plants by 90 percent by 2009. Governor Blagojevich's proposal also eliminates the emissions trading allowed under the federal plan, forcing power plants to decrease emissions instead of delaying reductions by buying cleaner credits. The proposal received final approval last December.
- Georgia has proposed an across the board mercury capture of between 80-85 percent by 2010 and 90 percent by 2015. More than 15 percent of children born in Georgia have dangerous levels of mercury in their blood, putting them at risk for cerebral palsy, delayed neurological milestones, and lifelong learning deficiencies.
- Connecticut legislators surpassed the EPA regulation even before the newest regulations came out. In 2003, CT passed a bill requiring a 90 percent reduction in mercury emissions. Wisconsin also passed a stricter emission limit before the new EPA regulation, calling for an 80 percent reduction.
- At least twenty-two states in total have adopted more stringent regulations, accelerated compliance deadlines, restricted interstate trading of mercury, or adopted more than one of these approachs.
Twenty-two states disagree with the EPA's mercury reduction plan, a plan that was adopted under the usual Bush adminstration M.O.: lack of transparency, distortion of facts, and a final product that will never achieve the necessary results.