Vermont to Join Eight States in EPA Lawsuit

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Vermont is joining eight other states to sue the Environmental Protection Agency over recently announced rules governing mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) In announcing the lawsuit, Vermont Attorney General, William Sorrell, said the EPA is failing to protect the public from mercury – known to be especially toxic to young children and pregnant women.

Because the Northeast is downwind from mid-western power plants, the region is especially susceptible to mercury contained in their emissions. Earlier this month, the EPA announced a rule that calls for an overall reduction in mercury emissions but let power companies determine which plants will reduce the mercury. Supporters say the plan is practical and cost-effective. But critics are calling for limiting emissions at all plants.

In a separate rule published Tuesday, the EPA said that power plants shouldn’t be subject to the most stringent requirements of the Clean Air Act. Sorrell says the new rules are a major reversal of EPA policy under the Clinton administration.

(Sorrell) “The Bush EPA has just changed course and will allow, from some power plants, even more mercury pollution to flow than currently exists. We have to fight this. This is ridiculous.”

(Zind) In the lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Vermont and the other states contend the EPA is failing to recognize the health hazards posed by mercury emissions. The suit claims the EPA is improperly exempting coal-fired plants from a requirement of the Clean Air Act that specifies that the plants use the maximum achievable technology to control emissions.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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