Nine States Including California Sue EPA Over New Mercury Emissions Rule
Nine states on Tuesday filed a lawsuit over a new Environmental Protection Agency rule that they allege does not adequately limit mercury emissions levels from coal power plants, the New York Times reports. California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Vermont filed the lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. The lawsuit involves a rule issued earlier this month by EPA that exempts power plants from certain limits on mercury emissions levels required under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act.
Under a "cap and trade" system, the rule allows power plants to purchase pollution credits from other plants that have reduced their mercury emissions levels below required limits. The rule also moves deadlines for compliance by power plants from 2008 to 2018, with mandatory limits on mercury emissions levels scheduled to take effect in 2026. EPA officials have said that the rule would lead to reduced mercury emissions levels nationwide. However, according to the lawsuit, the rule would only reduce mercury emissions levels from 48 tons annually to 15 tons, 10 tons more than required under Section 112.
The lawsuit also alleges that the rule would lead to pollution "hot spots" around power plants with higher mercury emissions levels. New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey said, "It is regrettable that now we find ourselves opposing an environmental agency whose singular goal is to protect the public health by ensuring cleaner air, water and land."
Cynthia Bergman, a public affairs officer for EPA, said, "The United States is the first country to regulate mercury emissions from power plants." Scott Segal -- director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, which represents the power plants -- said, "Those facilities that can make cost-effective reductions early, so that they can generate credits that they can trade later, have a big incentive to do it quickly" (DePalma, New York Times, 3/30).