AG will be spectator in Pa. controversy

John O'Brien Jan. 10, 2007, 9:06pm


HARRISBURG, Pa. - Having put his seal of approval on a law attempting to cut mercury pollution by 90 percent, Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett will now sit back and watch the fallout.

That's because the Legislative Reference Bureau has not published the proposed law in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, which makes an administrative rule official.

On Dec. 29, Corbett's office certified the rule, which is now in limbo while it waits to be published.

The bureau has sided with opponents of Gov. Ed Rendell's proposed rule. If it is enacted, Pennsylvania would become the first state to approve restrictions on mercury pollution that are stricter than the federal government's, according to The Associated Press.

Corbett Press Secretary Kevin Harley said that if the issue lands in court, Senate counsel will handle the case.

"We don't have jurisdiction over that," Harley said.

Those who oppose the rule claim the Senate still has more time to review Rendell's proposal, the AP story says.

Rendell is attempting to cut mercury pollution at coal-burning power plants by 90 percent by 2015. Critics of the rule say it will put plants out of business and increase electricity bills.

The utility industry claims that the state can achieve an 85-percent reduction in mercury emissions by 2018 under the federal rule, according to state Environmental Protection Agency Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty.

She calls the numbers presented by the utility industry "clearly incorrect."

State senators apparently disagree and voted 40-10 to enact the federal rule last June. The Senate currently holds a 29-21 Republican majority.

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