Portland, Maine –U.S. Representatives Tom Allen and Mike Michaud, Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe and Everett “Brownie” Carson, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) today renewed their commitment to a unified effort to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate mercury air emissions as a hazardous substance under the federal Clean Air Act. On March 15th, EPA issued a new regulation postponing any additional regulation of mercury under the Clean Air Act for ten years.
“EPA’s regulation imposes no controls on mercury for more than a decade, delaying mercury pollution reductions for another generation, despite mercury levels in mothers that put one sixth of unborn children in America at risk,” Representative Allen said. “Just before Congress recessed, I joined with Republican Representative Sherwood Boehlert of New York and Democratic Representative Henry Waxman of California to introduce H.R. 1451, The Clean Smokestacks Act of 2005, which would significantly curb emissions not only of mercury but carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, as well. I will take every opportunity offered by the legislative process, especially through my position on the committee with jurisdiction over EPA, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to tighten the regulation of mercury as a deadly hazardous air pollutant.”
Carson said that NRCM has asked U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Chair of the Senate Government Affairs Committee to initiate an investigation of EPA’s rulemaking process to determine how “such a corrupt and fraudulent rule was issued.”
“We’re convinced that the rule issued by EPA on March 15th completely fails to protect the health of Maine children and our families,” NRCM’s Carson said. “This rule violates the Clean Air Act, and we anticipate that it will be struck down by the court. When that happens, we and our colleagues in the environmental and public health communities will be right back at the task of forcing the EPA, an agency that has lost its bearings, to do the job it is charged by law to do- require controls on mercury emissions that will protect the public health and our environment.”
“It’s the federal government’s responsibility to regulate mercury emissions, and EPA was under a court order to adopt regulations governing mercury emissions by March 15, 2005,” said Assistant Attorney General Jerry Reid, speaking on behalf of Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe who was unable to attend due to a death in his family. “Unfortunately, the product of that rulemaking does almost nothing to address the problem. Most importantly from the perspective of the Attorney General’s office, the rule is illegal because it does not require sources of mercury pollution to install Maximum Available Control Technology, which the Clean Air Act requires for hazardous air pollutants. We will use this and other legal flaws as a basis for filing a lawsuit against EPA to force the Agency to comply with the law and adopt a strict rule governing mercury emissions.”
“Since the beginning of my time in the House of Representatives, I have been working with my colleagues in Congress to strengthen mercury standards,” Representative Michaud said in a prepared statement. “Contrary to some claims, creating a much stronger mercury rule is possible, cost-effective and good for the economy. I will continue working with those represented here today and members of both political parties in Congress who care about public health, to ensure that EPA does not give up on its responsibility to protect the health of our children from toxic mercury.”