EPA Must Deliver More Stringent Mercury Rule, Says NRDC

WASHINGTON (June 29, 2004) - NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and a coalition of conservation groups is calling on the Bush administration to finalize a more stringent mercury standard that abides by the Clean Air Act and protects public health instead of big polluters. In public comments submitted today to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), environmentalists blast the agency's proposed standard, announced in January, for ignoring Clean Air Act requirements and failing to require power plants to install the best technology to reduce their mercury pollution.

"The Bush administration needs to set a mercury standard that lives up to the goals of the Clean Air Act," says John Walke, director of NRDC's Clean Air program. "We've got the technology to cut mercury emissions. EPA just needs to cut out the loopholes that allow polluters to continue to spew tons of this dangerous poison, threatening public health and the environment."

In January, EPA proposed a mercury standard that would delay 70 percent reductions in mercury emissions past 2025. In their comments, the coalition urges EPA to adopt a more timely and protective standard -- achievable with current technologies and required by the Clean Air Act -- that would cut mercury emissions by approximately 90 percent by 2008.

Coal-fired power plants are the largest unregulated source of mercury air emissions in the United States and a significant source of mercury found in fish in more than 40 states. EPA must issue a final mercury rule by no later than March 2005.

Joining NRDC in the comments filed today are the Clean Air Task Force, Clean Water Action, Clear The Air, Environmental Integrity Project, National Environmental Trust, National Wildlife Federation, Ohio Environmental Council, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Southern Environmental Law Center, and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.