Ten States to Sue EPA over Mercury
Published on NRDC April 12, 2005
MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin has joined a list of states suing
the federal government's environmental policies, challenging
new regulations they say fail to protect children and
expectant mothers from dangers posed by mercury emissions.
In announcing his approval of the lawsuit, Gov. Jim Doyle
said Monday the Bush administration has cowed to big business
with new guidelines for power plant emissions that could
allow 19 states to increase mercury emissions in the next
five years by setting caps that are higher than current
The New Jersey attorney general's office is taking the
lead on the lawsuit. The eight other states involved are
California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
New Mexico, New York and Vermont.
The Sierra Club applauded Wisconsin for being the first
Midwest state to sue. "We hope Governor Doyle takes
this opportunity to help call on other Great Lakes and
Midwest states to join Wisconsin," said Eric Uram,
the club's regional representative.
Mercury settles in waterways and accumulates in fish.
In people who eat those fish, the toxic metal can cause
neurological and developmental problems, particularly
in fetuses and children.
The suit criticizes the EPA for exempting power plants
from having to install the strictest emissions control
technology available. That technology would cut mercury
pollution by 90 percent, according to the New Jersey attorney
The EPA issued a brief statement saying it "is confident
in the legal foundation of the rule-making and plans to
vigorously defend the rule." When the bulk of the
states sued last month EPA spokeswoman Cynthia Bergman
said the government has already taken steps to control
mercury emissions from other sources and that the rules
represent a new set of controls on "our last significant
source of mercury."
Wisconsin has some of the toughest mercury laws in the
country, requiring all power plants to cut emissions by
40 percent by 2010 and by 75 percent by 2015. The Environmental
Protection Agency rules aim to cut mercury emissions from
coal-burning power plants by nearly half within 15 years.
"We're showing that we can have high environmental
standards while using progressive, economically viable
technology," Doyle, a Democrat, said at a news conference
along the shore of Lake Michigan.
He was flanked by several environmentalists holding signs,
including one that said "No more mercury in my lake."
In Wisconsin, 90 percent of the lakes and streams have
high levels of the toxin and every lake and stream in
the state is under a fish consumption advisory. Still,
people eat more fish than the national average.
The governor said mercury pollution seriously threatens
Wisconsin's sport fishing industry, which employs 30,000
people, as well as women of childbearing age, pregnant
women and young children.