Nine States Sue Gov't Over Mercury Rules
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: March 30, 2005
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Filed at 7:13 a.m. ET
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Nine states filed a lawsuit against the federal
government Tuesday, challenging new regulations they say fail to protect
children and expectant mothers from dangers posed by mercury emissions from
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., said the reductions
announced earlier this month by the Environmental Protection Agency, do not
go far enough to satisfy Clear Air Act requirements.
The reductions aim to cut mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants
by nearly half within 15 years, but opponents say the plan provides an out
for the worst polluters by allowing them to trade ``pollution credits'' with
``EPA's emissions trading plan will allow some power plants to actually
increase mercury emissions, creating hot spots of mercury deposition and
threatening communities,'' said Attorney General Peter Harvey of New Jersey,
lead plaintiff in the case. ``It's an anti-human health position. The EPA is
putting private profit ahead of public health, and it's a mistake.''
EPA spokeswoman Cynthia Bergman said the government has already taken steps
to control mercury emissions from other sources and that the rules represent
a new set of controls on ``our last significant source of mercury.''
She urged pregnant women and women of child-bearing age to adhere to dietary
guidelines issued by the federal government and limit their consumption of
certain types of fish.
Mercury from smokestacks can wind up in waterways and ultimately be consumed
by humans who eat tainted fish. The toxic metal causes nerve damage, which
can be harmful to children and fetuses even at low levels of exposure.
Under the EPA's plan, the government allocates a pollution limit to each
state, which then places a cap on its plants. Plants that exceed the limit
can buy pollution credits from plants emitting less mercury pollution than
they are allowed.
The program starts in 2010. Until then, utilities do not have to do anything
specifically to control mercury.
The lawsuit challenges the deadline given to power plants for compliance,
and assails the EPA for exempting power plants from having to install the
strictest emissions control technology available. That technology would cut
mercury pollution by 90 percent, according to the New Jersey attorney
The eight other states involved in the suit are California, Connecticut,
Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York and Vermont.