Lung group upset with 25 AGs

Jessica M. Karmasek Oct. 18, 2011, 12:00pm


LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) - The American Lung Association on Monday called out Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and other state attorneys general for standing up for what it calls "big polluters."

Last week, the attorneys general of 25 states and Guam filed an amicus brief urging the federal Environmental Protection Agency to delay the implementation of new emissions regulations.

The EPA's proposed Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology Rule would create a new federal regulation to address the emissions of hazardous air pollutants from oil-fired and coal power plants. The proposed rule may require the installation of new control technologies to meet the limits mandated by the EPA, and power plants unable to meet the new limits may be forced to shut down.

The attorneys general, in their brief, asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to delay the regulations by one year to Nov. 16, 2012 to protect and preserve jobs and affordable electricity rates.

"The decision by Attorney General Bill Schuette and his counterparts in other states to stand up for polluters and to ignore the health of Michigan's children is quite shocking," Peter Iwanowicz, ALA's assistant vice president, said in a statement.

"The job of an attorney general is to protect and advocate for the residents they serve. Attorney General Schuette has done the exact opposite by siding with big polluters over the health and well-being of our children and other vulnerable residents."

The rule, proposed by the EPA in mid-March, was issued in response to a court decision compelling the agency to abide by requirements set in the Clean Air Act. As part of the 1990 amendments to the act, Congress directed the EPA to set limits on power plant mercury and air toxics.

The EPA estimates that the regulations will prevent serious illnesses and health problems for thousands of Americans, including up to 17,000 premature deaths, 11,000 heart attacks, 120,000 asthma attacks, 12,200 hospital and emergency room visits, 4,500 cases of chronic bronchitis and 5.1 million restricted activity days.

"As a nurse, I've seen first-hand how harmful pollution endangers lives," said Mary Scoblic, who has a master's degree in pediatric nursing and has served on Michigan's ALA board since 1975.

"There is nothing that rings the wake-up call louder than seeing a child gasping for breath because his lungs have been damaged by pollution. It's the EPA's job to protect all of us from dangerous pollution, and it's our attorney general's job to look out for our best interests."

According to a recently released report by the Great Lakes Commission, mercury contamination in the Great Lakes is more widespread than originally thought.

The report, the ALA says, underscores the need for moving ahead with the EPA proposal to reduce mercury and air toxics from power plants.

"There is no disputing that pollution and neurotoxins such as mercury have a devastating effect on children's health," said Jan Roberts, a registered nurse and certified asthma educator.

"Attorney General Schuette is turning back the clock on progress made to improve the air that fills our children and grandchildren's lungs. Clean, healthy air is a necessity for all of us."

The 25 states that that filed the amicus brief last week include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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