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Old 09-12-2005, 02:32 PM   #1
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Default Mercury reduction and the EPA

We clearly see which side of this fight the White House is on, and it is not the side of the people, it is the side of the utilites who do not want to be forced to spend $ to remove mercury from their emissions.

What's clean air? who cares about toxic mercury levels in kids? sheesh....

To claim that the floor vote rescinding the new and laxer EPA rules will "delay" emission reductions, when the Clean Air Act does just that and more, is spin at its finest.

White House Threatens Mercury Change Veto By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 31 minutes ago

The White House on Monday defended its anti-pollution policies and threatened to veto a Senate proposal to negate new Environmental Protection Agency rules on limiting mercury emissions from power plants.

Senate Democrats, joined by several Republicans, claim that the EPA rules favor the utility industry while slowing action on a serious public health hazard. A Senate vote to overturn the rules was slated for later Monday.

The White House, in a statement, said it supports efforts to reduce mercury emissions and protect public health based on sound science. It said the Senate resolution "would unnecessarily delay the first-ever reduction of mercury emissions from power plants" and that, if it reaches the president's desk, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto it.

The chances of the bill reaching that stage are not high: passage in the Senate is uncertain and is less probable in the House, where the GOP majority rarely deviates from the White House.

The bill's sponsors, Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, turned to a little-used 1996 law that allows Congress to challenge agency rules with a guaranteed floor vote. The law has been successfully invoked only once, when Congress in 2001 repealed Clinton administration workplace ergonomics regulations.

By repealing the EPA rules finalized last March, the Senate would force the agency to return to the tougher Clean Air Act rules imposed during the Clinton administration that requires the nation's 600 coal-burning power plants to use the best available technology to reduce mercury emissions.

Environmental and health groups and other opponents of the new rules say the regulations are inadequate in dealing with a toxin that every year puts hundreds of thousands of newborns and children at risk of neurological damage. Mercury pollutants work their way up the food chain after being absorbed by fish.

The administration says that, under the new rules, mercury pollution from power plants would eventually be cut by 70 percent, from 48 tons currently to 15 tons.

The rules set a nationwide cap on mercury emissions and put a ceiling on allowable pollution for each state beginning in 2010. But individual plants, through a cap-and-trade system, can avoid cleanups by buying pollution credits from plants that are under allowable levels. The utility industry says this is the best way to reduce mercury emissions, citing successes of cap-and-trade in reducing acid rain in the 1990s.

Last month a federal appeals court rejected a suit brought by environmental and health groups and 14 states seeking to force the EPA to stop implementing the new rules.

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