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E-M:/ Thanks Michigan for signing onto Mercury lawsuit!



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Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <Anne.Woiwode@sierraclub.org>
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Kudos to Michigan for being one of the states challenging weak federal rules
on mercury pollution from power plants!

Anne Woiwode, State Director
Sierra Club Mackinac (Michigan) Chapter


NEWS RELEASE FROM ATTORNEY GENERAL ELIOT SPITZER

Contact
For Immediate Release:
Judith Enck, 518-473-5525                                        June 19,
2006

Coalition of 16 States File Lawsuit Challenging Final EPA Rules
That Will Perpetuate Dangerous Mercury Hot Spots

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced that New York and 15 other states
filed a new lawsuit today in federal court challenging the final rules
published June 9, 2006  by the Environmental Protection Agency which
establish a cap-and-trade system for regulating harmful mercury emissions
from power plants.

EPA announced on May 31, 2006  that it would move forward with its
cap-and-trade program for mercury emissions despite petitions from the
states and environmental groups that outlined how the program will delay
emissions reduction for many years, perpetuate hot spots of local mercury
deposition and pose a serious threat to the health of children.

The coalition of states filed suit last year in the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the D.C. Circuit, challenging the cap-and-trade rule and a separate
rule that removed power plants from the list of pollution sources subject
to stringent pollution controls under the federal Clean Air Act. That
lawsuit, which asserts that both rules violate the Clean Air Act, was put
on hold by the court in October when the EPA agreed to a formal
reconsideration of the rules.

After more than six months, EPA chose to adopt final rules that failed to
address any of the concerns raised by the states. EPA actually made the
rules worse than those originally adopted, easing already weak mercury
emissions standards for every major category of coal plant except for
bituminous coal-burning plants.

The new lawsuit filed by the states today will allow the claims brought in
the original suit to move forward.

"Mercury is a potent neuro-toxin and we should do everything possible to
reduce the public's exposure to it.  I am disappointed that the EPA
continues to take a regulatory approach that conflicts with the Clean Air
Act.  Our lawsuit seeks to make sure this issue is handled as the law
requires, leading to improved public health and environmental protection,"
said Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of uncontrolled mercury
emissions, generating 48 tons of mercury emissions each year nationwide.
The trading scheme established by EPA's cap-and-trade rule will allow power
plants to purchase emissions reduction credits from other plants that
reduce emissions below targeted levels, rather than install stringent
controls to reduce mercury emissions at their own plants. That will allow
localized deposition of mercury to continue unabated near plants that
choose not to reduce emissions, perpetuating hot spots and hot regions that
can significantly harm the health of individual communities.
 Through deposition, mercury enters the aquatic food chain and ultimately
is consumed by humans ingesting certain types of fish.  Children can suffer
permanent brain and nervous system damage as a result of exposure to even
low levels of mercury, which frequently occurs in utero.  Mercury exposure
can result in attention and language deficits, impaired memory, impaired
visual and motor functions, and reduced IQ.  Also, mercury has been linked,
more recently, to increased heart attacks in adult males.

A strict standard involving "maximum achievable control technology" (MACT),
as required by the Clean Air Act, would reduce mercury emissions to levels
approximately three times lower than the cap established in the
cap-and-trade rule EPA adopted, and would do so far more quickly.  EPA's
cap-and-trade rule will yield insignificant immediate reductions in mercury
emissions from power plants from the current level of 48 tons per year, and
will delay even modest reductions by more than a decade.

In contrast to the EPA rule, more than 20 states have adopted or are moving
to adopt significantly more stringent rules to reduce mercury emissions.
New York recently announced new regulations that will require mercury
reductions of 50% by 2010 and 90% by 2015 from coal-fired power plants.
The New York regulations do not rely on a cap and trade approach.

The coalition challenging the EPA rule includes  New Jersey, California,
Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota,
New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Exposure to the most toxic form of mercury comes primarily from eating
contaminated fish and shellfish.  Fish advisories, which have been adopted
by EPA, are not an adequate substitute for appropriate regulation of
mercury emissions under the Clean Air Act.

 Scientists estimate up to 600,000 children may be born annually in the
United States with neurological problems leading to poor school performance
because of mercury exposure while in the womb.

The lawsuit is being handled by New York Assistant Attorney General Jacob
Hollinger.

# # #

Judith Enck, Policy Advisor
NYS Attorney General's Office
Environmental Protection Bureau
State Capitol
Albany, NY  12224-0341
Phone:  518 473 9037
Fax:  518 473 2534
E mail:  Judith.Enck@oag.state.ny.us



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