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E-M:/ Mercury: Sierra Club Praises Bipartisan Coalition of Senators For Demanding Strong Mercury Protections



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Enviro-Mich message from "Anne M. Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>
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Subject: Mercury: Sierra Club Praises Bipartisan Coalition of Senators
For Demanding Strong Mercury Protections

For Immediate Release
April 1, 2004

Contact:
Wendy Balazik, 202-675-2383

SIERRA CLUB PRAISES BIPARTISAN COALITION OF SENATORS FOR DEMANDING
STRONG
MERCURY PROTECTIONS
Senators Demand Bush Administration Clean Up Mercury Pollution from
Power
Plants

Washington, DC:  The Sierra Club today thanked a bipartisan coalition of
Senators for urging the Bush administration to protect communities from
mercury pollution.  The Bush administration's proposal falls far short
of
what the law requires and leaves communities at risk for mercury
pollution.

In the process of creating the proposal, longtime EPA (Environmental
Protection Agency) staff charge the Bush administration ordered them to
scrap the usual scientific and economic studies when drafting the
mercury
plan.  Instead, the EPA proposed a new mercury plan that copies language
from a report written by West Associates, an industry organization
representing 23 large Western utility companies. In March 2003, West
Associates presented the EPA with recommendations about mercury
regulations
and described the results of an analysis of possible mercury emission
reduction scenarios. This all ended up in the Bush administration's
final
proposal.

In response to the Bush administration's bad mercury proposal, a
bipartisan
group of Senators sent a letter to Mike Leavitt, EPA's administrator,
urging him to reduce mercury pollution coming from power plants with
technology that is available and affordable.

Signers include:  Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Mark Pryor (D-AR),
Barbara
Boxer (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Joseph
I.
Lieberman (D-CT), Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Bob
Graham (D-FL), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Daniel Inouye
(D-HI), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Richard Durbin (R-IL), Edward Kennedy (D-MA),
John Kerry (D-MA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), Susan
Collins (R-ME), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Carl Levin (D-MI), Debbie Stabenow
(D-MI), Mark Dayton (D-MN), John Edwards (D-NC), Judd Gregg (R-NH), John
Sununu (R-NH), Jon Corzine (D-NJ) Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Jeff Bingaman
(D-NM), Harry Reid (D-NV), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Charles Schumer
(D-NY),
Ron Wyden (D-OR), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ernest
Hollings
(D-SC), Thomas Daschle (D-SD), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), James Jeffords
(I-VT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patty Murray
(D-WA),
Russ Feingold (D-WI), Herbert Kohl (D-WI), and John Rockefeller (D-WV).


Below is the text of the letter:

The Honorable Michael O. Leavitt
Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Leavitt:

We are writing to urge you to take prompt and effective action to clean
up
mercury pollution from power plants.  The Environmental Protection
Agency's
(EPA) current proposals on mercury fall far short of what the law
requires,
and they fail to protect the health of our children and our environment.
We ask you to carry out the requirements of the Clean Air Act to protect
our nation from toxic mercury contamination.

On January 30, 2003, EPA proposed two alternative rules to address
mercury
emissions.  Unfortunately, both of these proposals fail to meet the
Clean
Air Act directives under section 112 (d) for cleaning up mercury.  EPA's
proposals permit far more mercury pollution, and for years longer, than
the
Clean Air Act allows.

The toxicity of mercury has been proven time and again by scientists
around
the world.  The Agency's own scientists just released a study finding
that
approximately 630,000 infants were born in the United States in the
12-month period, 1999-2000, with blood mercury levels higher than what
is
considered safe.  This is a doubling of previous estimates.  Mercury
emissions have also contaminated ten million acres of lakes and 400,000
miles of streams, and have triggered advisories warning America's 41
million recreational fishermen that the fish they catch may not be safe
to
eat.  Furthermore, evidence continues to mount that mercury causes
reproductive problems in wildfowl populations, such as loon and mallard
ducks.  Other fish-eating wildlife populations are at risk as well.


We can address this public health and environmental problem.  According
to
many states, industry experts, and past EPA analyses, the technology to
dramatically clean up these plants is available and affordable.  We are
concerned that EPA did not fully analyze the range of controls
recommended
by state, utility, and environmental and public health members of EPA's
advisory group on this rule.

The newest scientific studies show that controlling mercury emissions
works.  As we saw in Florida, sharp reductions in mercury pollution are
mirrored by reductions in nearby fish populations.  A study in northern
Wisconsin indicated that reductions in the input of mercury from air
corresponded with marked reductions in mercury fish tissue levels in the
1990s.

As the Administrator of the EPA, you have the legal authority and the
responsibility to address mercury emissions and protect public health.
We
do not believe that EPA's current proposals are sufficient or
defensible.
We urge you to withdraw the entire proposed rule package and re-propose
a
rule for adequate public comment that meets the terms of the 1998
settlement agreement and is promulgated by the December 15, 2004
deadline.

We look forward to working with you to develop appropriate mercury
standards that reduce mercury emissions in the shortest time possible to
protect public health and the environment.

Sincerely,

# # #

Wendy Balazik
Media Coordinator
Sierra Club
Phone:  202-675-2383
Fax:  202-547-6009





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