WILL MOUNT LEGAL CHALLENGE TO EPA MERCURY RULE
Rule Delays by a Generation
Needed Protections and Allows Localized
(05/19) TRENTON -- New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey
and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner
Bradley M. Campbell today announced that New Jersey will file
suit against the new federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
mercury rule unveiled today. The rule fails to protect the public
adequately from harmful mercury emissions.
"We will file suit to challenge EPA's new rule, which fails
to protect our citizens from the grave threat posed by mercury
emissions," said Attorney General Harvey. "Mercury has
been linked to neurological disorders and is especially dangerous
for young children and pregnant women. By authorizing emissions
trading, EPA's rule will allow some power plants to actually increase
mercury emissions, creating hot spots of mercury deposition around
"Once again, in the choice between families and polluters,
President Bush has left every child behind in order to reward
industry and campaign contributors," said Commissioner Campbell.
"This rule betrays the public's trust by calling for standards
far too weak to protect public health and the environment. Moreover,
the emissions reductions trumpeted by the EPA in this rule are
misleading and inaccurate."
New Jersey is consulting with other northeastern states severely
impacted by mercury emissions and will petition for review of
the rule to demand that the EPA implement a strong, protective
rule as required by the Clean Air Act.
The Bush EPA's mercury rule lets coal-fired power plants trade
credits under a cap-and-trade system. Cap-and-trade emission controls,
while sometimes appropriate for general air pollutants like sulfur
dioxide and carbon dioxide, are inappropriate for hazardous air
pollutants (HAPs) because they can allow localized deposition
of mercury to continue unabated, perpetuating hotspots and hot
regions that can significantly impact the health of individual
The rule's cap-and-trade form of mercury controls allows several
times more emissions than a Clinton-era plan that called for a
technology-based control standard for all facilities. A strict
Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standard, as required
by the Clean Air Act, would reduce mercury emissions to levels
approximately three times lower than the cap established in this
EPA rule. EPA's trading rule will ultimately result in 15 tons
of emissions; MACT control, reducing emissions at each facility
by 90 percent, results in emissions of about 5 tons per year.
The Bush EPA rule also extends the deadline for full compliance
to 2018 from a court-approved deadline of 2007.
In contrast, New Jersey adopted last year tough new restrictions
on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, iron and steel
melters, and municipal solid waste incinerators. The rules will
reduce in-state mercury emissions by over 1,500 pounds annually
and reduce emissions from New Jersey's coal-fired power plants
by about 90 percent.
Despite New Jersey's aggressive efforts to protect the public
from mercury exposure, stronger federal action than the Bush EPA
rule is needed since more than one-third of mercury deposition
in New Jersey is from sources in upwind states.
Exposure to the most toxic form of mercury comes primarily from
eating contaminated fish and shellfish. Children and pregnant
women are especially susceptible to mercury contamination, which
can cause permanent brain damage to the fetus, infants, and young
children. Mercury exposure has been shown to affect the ability
of children to pay attention, remember, talk, draw, run, see,
Even exposure to low levels can permanently damage the brain
and nervous system and cause behavioral changes. Scientists estimate
up to 60,000 children may be born annually in the United States
with neurological problems leading to poor school performance
because of mercury exposure while in utero. At least
one in 10 pregnant women in New Jersey have concentrations of
mercury in their hair samples that exceed safe levels.
Fish from waters in 45 of our 50 states have been declared unsafe
to eat as a result of poisoning from mercury. In New Jersey, there
are mercury consumption advisories for at least one species of
fish in almost every waterbody of the state.