In response to Tuesday’s Washington Post report that the Environmental Protection Agency decided to ignore Harvard University researchers’ analysis of health benefits from reducing mercury pollution from power plants, the Clean Air Task Force, National Wildlife Federation and Natural Resources Council of Maine, are renewing their request that Senator Susan Collins, as Chair of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, initiate committee hearings into the creation of the EPA’s mercury rule.
The three groups sent a letter to Senator Collins earlier this month saying “the facts as they appear today suggest that EPA is conducting business in such a way as to constitute waste, fraud and abuse.” At that time, allegations had come to light that:
Whole portions of EPA’s mercury proposal had been written by lobbyists for the coal and utility industries; EPA had instructed staff to develop a mercury standard that matched the Bush administration’s Clean Air Act rollback proposal, rather than one based on health effects and legal requirements; and EPA failed to evaluate the health and safety effects of mercury on children. In addition, according to Tuesday’s Washington Post, EPA ignored a Harvard University study on the health benefits of reducing mercury pollution.
“Collins has been a champion on the mercury issue and a leader in the protection of our environment,” said Brownie Carson, executive director of Maine’s leading environmental advocacy group, the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “We are fortunate that Senator Collins is uniquely positioned to get to the bottom of the EPA’s wrongdoing.”
“We strongly urge Senator Collins, and other members of the Governmental Affairs Committee, to use their power to send a strong signal to the EPA,” said Carson. “’Do not abuse the process required by laws such as the Clean Air Act and the agency’s own protocol, and do not allow either lobbyists for the regulated industry or members of the White House staff to write regulations that are the responsibility of the EPA. We expect compliance with the law from the agency that is charged with protecting the health of our families and our environment.’”
Senator Collins has stated publicly that the EPA’s mercury rule “falls far short of what the law requires and fails to protect the health of our children and our environment.” In a letter to EPA last year, Senator Collins wrote, “I am calling on the Administration to withdraw their current mercury proposal and issue a new rule that would reduce mercury emissions in the shortest time possible to protect public health and the environment.”
“In light of Senator Collins’ commitment to a strong and protective mercury controls, and the serious flaws in the EPA’s final rule, I urge her to investigate why the agency failed to carry out its responsibility,” said Carson.
“This kind of inquiry must go forward now,” said Carson. “The people of Maine, and our elected officials, should not allow EPA to ignore the law and continue doing ‘business as usual.’”