WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Carper (D–Del.) today praised a ruling by a federal appeals court rejecting the Bush administration’s flawed and highly controversial Mercury Rule.
Sen. Carper said he strongly supports the ruling by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which determined that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed to fulfill its obligations under the Clean Air Act when it issued the 2005 Clean Air Mercury Rule.
Sen. Carper, chairman of the Senate Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, said the court’s ruling further justifies passage of his Clean Air Planning Act (CAPA), which would require every power plant to reduce its mercury emissions by 90 percent by 2015, as well as reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide.
In addition, in light of today’s ruling, Sen. Carper said he plans to introduce legislation that would require the EPA to issue a new rule to control mercury emissions as required by Section 112 of the Clean Air Act.
In response to the court ruling this morning, Sen. Carper said:
“Mercury pollution is a serious matter. The EPA’s own studies show that 6 percent of American women of child-bearing age have blood mercury levels high enough to cause neurological problems in their unborn children.
“Each year in this country, 630,000 children are born exposed to dangerous levels of mercury in the womb. And, in the past several years, studies suggest that mercury may also cause health problems for adults, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and neurological symptoms.
“Nearly half of the mercury pollution in the United States comes from electric power plants. This mercury pollutes our lakes and streams, and accumulates in many of the fish we eat. Last week, the New York Times reported that new studies show mercury levels in tuna are much higher than previously thought. In fact, laboratory tests have found enough mercury in some tuna sushi to conclude that a regular diet of six pieces a week may exceed levels considered acceptable by the EPA.
“Unfortunately, the EPA refused to regulate mercury emissions from power plants in a manner that would provide the maximum protection for our environment and citizens. The EPA’s Clean Air Mercury Rule ignored the Clean Air Act’s designation of mercury as a hazardous air pollutant, which would have required power plants to use Maximum Achievable Control Technology for controlling mercury pollution. Instead, the EPA established a weak cap-and-trade program that would allow power plants across the country to not install any mercury controls at all.
“I applaud the U.S. District Court’s decision to overturn the EPA’s Mercury Rule, which reflects the urgency I have been voicing for years to pass comprehensive air pollution legislation now. Last year, I introduced a bill – the Clean Air Planning Act – that would cut mercury emissions by 90 percent by 2015. Incidentally, EPA’s own analysis concludes that such a goal is achievable using current methods, such as Activated Carbon Injection technology. Indeed, the EPA concluded that also adding a scrubber to the smokestack of a coal-fired power plant can reduce mercury emissions by up to 98 percent, while also being financially feasible. There is no reason our nation’s waterways should continue to be polluted with mercury emissions from power plants. There is no reason mothers should be concerned about the impacts their diet will have on their unborn children.
“Put simply, making deep cuts in our nation’s mercury emissions is financially feasible, technologically practical and absolutely necessary to protect American lives. That is why I am introducing legislation that requires the EPA to propose a rule requiring the best mercury controls be installed at every power plant in America. The federal appeals court has concluded that the EPA failed to fulfill its duty to protect the public health under the law when they issued the Clean Air Mercury Rule. My legislation will ensure that does not happen again.”