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Great Lakes Article:

Ten States to Sue EPA over Mercury Rules
Associated Press
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 levels.

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 general's office.

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.

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