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E-M:/ EPA motion releasejp_js (1)
- Subject: E-M:/ EPA motion releasejp_js (1)
- From: "William Freese" <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 04 Mar 2008 21:28:43 -0500
- Delivered-to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Delivered-to: email@example.com
- List-name: Enviro-Mich
- Reply-to: "William Freese" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Enviro-Mich message from "William Freese" <email@example.com>
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2008
Contact: James Pew, Earthjustice (202) 667-4500
Jane Williams, Desert Citizens Against Pollution (661) 510-3412
EPA Finally Sets Plans for Mercury Limits from Cement Kilns
Years of delay means thousands of pounds of mercury pollution gone
Washington, D.C. - Under intense pressure from states and local and
national environmental and public health groups, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency announced in a
court document plans to regulate mercury pollution from over 100 cement
kilns across the country by September 2009. The announcement marks a
dramatic shift in EPA policy which, until now, had been to resist requiring
mercury controls for cement kilns.
Three times in the last ten years, federal courts have ordered EPA to set
emission standards to control cement kilns' mercury emissions. Until now,
EPA has ignored these orders and sought to evade them. EPA finally
indicated that it would set mercury emission standards in papers filed on
February 20, 2008 in a fourth case brought by Sierra Club, Downwinders at
Risk (TX), Friends of Hudson (NY), Montanans Against Toxic Burning, Desert
Citizens Against Pollution (CA) and the Huron Environmental Activist League
(MI), and the States of New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Illinois,
Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
"Cement kilns are among the nation's worst polluters, and their free ride
on mercury pollution needs to end at long last," said Jane Williams,
executive director of Desert Citizens Against Pollution.
Cement kilns pumped nearly 12,000 pounds of mercury into the air in 2006,
according to EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). However, the TRI depends
on voluntary emissions estimates that may significantly understate kilns'
actual pollution levels. Individual cement kilns in New York, Michigan and
Oregon routinely understated their emissions until being required by State
officials to conduct emissions tests at which point it became evident
that their actual emissions were approximately ten times higher than
previously reported. The Lafarge kiln in Ravena, New York previously
reported mercury emissions of only 40 pounds. It now acknowledges emitting
nearly 400 pounds per year.
"Michigan's biggest mercury polluter is the largest cement plant in North
America the Lafarge cement plant in Alpena," said Bill Freese, Director of
the Huron Environmental Activist League. It became number one when the
largest emitter, a power plant, installed stack scrubbers and pollution
control equipment which lowered their emissions by 70%. Lafarge could have
cut their mercury emissions by more than 50% by discontinuing the use of
the mercury laden Canadian fly ash from Canadian power plants. Like the
hazardous waste they incinerated until late 2001 they are paid a generous
amount delivered to take it. Old habits are are hard to break. It's about
time the EPA did something about this pollution. Its been a long time
coming and we hope the EPA lives up to their promises.".
LOCAL QUOTE CAN GO HERE: "New York's biggest mercury polluter is a cement
kiln in Ravena," said Susan Falzon, executive director with Friends of
Hudson. "It's no mystery that these facilities are some of the bigger
mercury polluters in the country. It's about time EPA does something about
this pollution and we hope they live up to their promises."
According to a 1991 article in Science News, it only takes 1/70th of a
teaspoon of mercury to contaminate a 25-acre lake. Over 40 states have
warned their citizens to avoid consuming various fish species due to
mercury contamination, with over half of those mercury advisories applying
to all waterbodies in the state.
Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that can impair a young child's ability
to walk, talk, read, write and learn. EPA says it has been collecting
emissions data from various cement kilns across the country. While the
mercury pollution from these kilns is staggering, they are also major
polluters of other toxic air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds
and total hydrocarbons, a known carcinogen [CONFIRM]. In the court
documents, EPA also pledged to regulate this pollutant as well.
"It is a good thing Americans can hold their government accountable for
breaking the law," said Marti Sinclair, Sierra Club's National Air
Committee Chair. "The cement industry far too much clout at EPA. If the
Courts hadn't put a stop to its scofflaw behavior, the agency would never
have made this industry clean up."
A copy of EPA's Motion to Govern can be found at:
Ten Years And Four Lawsuits To Bring EPA Into Compliance With Clean Air
Sierra Club first filed suit in 1998, after EPA failed to meet a November
15, 1997 deadline to issue air toxics regulations for cement kilns. In that
case, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ordered
the agency to do so by May 15, 1999.
When the agency issued the overdue regulations, however, it refused to
include standards to control cement kilns' mercury emissions. Sierra Club,
represented by Earthjustice, challenged that decision in the United States
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which found in 2000
that the agency's refusal violated the federal Clean Air Act and ordered
the agency to set mercury standards.
EPA ignored the D.C. Circuit's order until 2004, when Sierra Club brought a
third suit, which resulted in an order requiring EPA to issue the required
mercury standards no later than December, 2006.
In 2006, the agency issued another rule refusing to set mercury standards.
On this occasion, it was sued not only by local and national environmental
groups, but also Sierra Club but by Downwinders at Risk (TX), Friends of
Hudson (NY), Montanans Against Toxic Burning, Desert Citizens Against
Pollution (CA) and the Huron Environmental Activist League (MI), and the
States of New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware,
Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania__ . That case was held in
abeyance from 2006 until now, when EPA was forced to indicate whether it
wished to set mercury standards or litigate the issue a fourth time. The
agency indicated in a motion to the court that it expected to propose
mercury standards by "mid-September 2008" and issue them by "mid-September
"After nearly a decade of litigation and multiple court orders directing
EPA to regulate mercury from cement kilns, it seems the agency is finally
paying attention," said Earthjustice attorney James Pew.
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