Blast EPA's New Mercury Proposal As Benefiting Industry, Endangering Children
Bush Administration on Friday released a dramatically weakened plan for regulating toxic mercury from coal-burning power plants,
a proposal that was written in part by industry and one that is drawing sharp criticism from its own children's health advisers.
to mercury by pregnant women and women of childbearing age can cause permanent brain damage to fetuses, infants and young
children. But utilities -- the largest source of mercury emissions -- had lobbied against stiffer mercury regulations as too
difficult and costly.
EPA's own panel of experts on children's health lodged a protest with the agency over the proposal last week. The Children's
Health Protection Advisory Committee, which includes pediatricians, businesspeople and scientists, said it was concerned that
the agency's plan "does not sufficiently protect our nation's children," in a letter to EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt.
"While cost effectiveness is important, the priority should be to protect children's health in a timely manner."
formal publication of the proposal kicked off a 60-day public comment period, during which EPA will hold three hearings and
citizens can submit written comments.
Administration is proposing to allow the single largest unregulated source of mercury -- coal-fired power plants -- to continue
emitting high levels for at least the next decade, leaving children exposed to risks of developing problems with walking,
talking and learning, clean air advocates charge.
the EPA determined that because of the serious health threats posed by mercury, it should regulate mercury from power plants.
In 2001, EPA estimated that under the Clean Air Act, available technologies could reduce 90 percent of mercury from power
Friday's proposal instead would allow some power plants to avoid reducing mercury emissions by letting plants sell pollution
"credits" to others that fail to meet their own mercury targets. EPA proposes allowing power plants to emit six to seven times
more mercury pollution into the air for a decade longer than its 2001 determination.
charge that the only beneficiaries of the EPA plan are electric utilities that rely on coal-fired plants. They note that President
Bush has been by far the top recipient of campaign contributions since year 2000.
Washington Post noted in a story Saturday that whole passages of the EPA's proposal were taken directly from a memo written
by a law firm representing the utility industry -- "at least a dozen paragraphs were lifted, sometimes verbatim, from the
House records show that while utility representatives were invited to discuss the mercury emission proposal with the White
House several times last fall, no consumer or public health groups were included.
 Letter to EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt, Jan. 26, 2004
 Federal Register notice
 "Proposed Mercury Rules Bear Industry Mark," Jan. 31, 2004
 Center for Responsive Politics
 White House records, Mercury MACT rule