N.J. AG files brief in mercury case

By John O'Brien | Jan 12, 2007


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The leader of a 16-state group demanding the Environmental Protection Agency become tougher on mercury-emitting power plants, New Jersey Attorney General Stuart Rabner recently filed a new brief in his lawsuit contending the EPA violated the Clean Air Act.

The suit was filed in March 2005 and is located in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The 35-page brief claims the EPA exempted power plants from regulations requiring deep reductions in their emissions of hazardous air pollutants.

"The coalition asserts that the alternative cap-and-trade regulations EPA developed for power plants -- the Clean Air Mercury Rule -- will delay meaningful emission reductions of mercury for many years, perpetuating mercury deposition 'hot spots' and endangering the health of children," Rabner said.

Rabner alleges that the cap-and-trade regulations established in the EPA's 2006 regulations allow power plants to avoid the expense of installing stringent pollution controls to reduce mercury emissions.

"Instead, the states note, power plants can purchase emission reduction 'credits' from other plants that reduce emissions below targeted levels," he said.

The participating states are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. The City of Baltimore is also part of the group.

Rabner was sworn in as the new A-G Sept. 26. He was previously Gov. Jon Corzine's chief counsel.

Mercury emission rules have recently become a hot topic in Pennsylvania, too.

The group that publishes a proposed rule, the Legislative Reference Bureau, has refused to include Gov. Ed Rendell's rule in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, which would activate it into law.

If the rule is adopted, then Pennsylvania will become the first state with a tougher-than-federal law regarding mercury emissions. State senators voted 40-10 to approve the federal law last June, but Rendell and Attorney General Tom Corbett signed off on the new state law.

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