Rule Triples Allowable Mercury Levels, Harms Children
Statement by Brownie Carson, NRCM executive director
“Today, Senator Collins is joining with Senator Patrick Leahy to introduce a Congressional Review Act resolution disapproving of the Bush administration rule that exempts mercury from power plants from being treated as a hazardous air pollutant. Thirty senators have signed the accompanying discharge petition, which will ensure that the full Senate will vote on EPA’s power plant mercury rule, likely in July.
“We applaud Senator Collins for her leadership role in urging formal disapproval by the U.S. Senate of the EPA’s weak mercury rule. Her actions mean that senators will have an opportunity to vote, on the record, to protect the health of our children and wildlife and stop EPA from catering to polluting industries.
“Clearly, Senator Collins has chosen to demonstrate her commitment to protecting Maine families and environment. We hope she will be able to convince a majority of senators to join her and overturn the EPA’s weak and ineffective mercury rule.
“The rule issued by EPA on March 15 completely fails to protect Maine people, especially our children, and our environment from mercury from coal-burning power plants. The EPA has chosen to let these plants generate three times more mercury pollution over the next fifty years than would be allowed under the Clean Air Act. Coal-burning power plants are the largest single source of mercury pollution in Maine and the nation.
“EPA’s rule violates the Clean Air Act, and demonstrates that the agency cannot be trusted to do the job that the law requires. EPA’s mercury rule is being challenged in court by many states, including Maine. In addition, Native American tribes and environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine, have sued to block this rule. Now, in a very rare and unusual move, more than 30 United State Senators have asked their colleagues to reject EPA’s badly flawed rule. It is time for EPA to recognize that it has breached the public trust, and start over with a commitment to protecting our nation’s citizens and our environment.
“Our children deserve better. The technology is available and in use today to protect our kids and reduce mercury emissions 90% by 2008. We at the Natural Resources Council will continue the fight – in the courts, the statehouse and Washington – until coal-burning power plants no longer poison future generations of Mainers.”