Court Rules EPA Violated the Law by Evading Required Power Plant Mercury Reductions
February 8, 2008
In 2005 the Sierra Club, along with fourteen states, dozens of Native American tribes, public health and other environmental groups, took legal action in response to the Environmental Protection Agency's attempt to weaken mercury pollution controls and endanger the healthy and safety of communities and the environment. On February 8, 2008 a federal appeals court vindicated the groups' position, ruling that EPA violated the Clean Air Act by evading mandatory cuts in toxic mercury pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants. The decision invalidates the agency’s so-called "Clean Air Mercury Rule," which would have allowed dangerously high levels of mercury pollution to persist under a weak cap-and-trade program that would not have taken full effect until well beyond 2020.
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rebuked EPA for attempting to create an illegal loophole for the power generating industry, rather than applying the toughest emission standards of the Clean Air Act. EPA unlawfully decided to remove power plants from the most protective requirements of the Clean Air Act, reasoning they had the authority under the law to do so. "This explanation deploys the logic of the Queen of Hearts, substituting EPA’s desires for the plain text…" of the law, the court wrote in its decision. This ruling orders the EPA to protect community health, rather than the health of energy company profits.
Read the full decision here!
April 23, 2004
The Sierra Club’s fight to protect families and communities from mercury pollution and contamination is a major focus of the Club’s overall campaign to stop the Bush Administration’s assault on the environment. The Bush Administration has grudgingly begun to warn Americans about the dangerous mercury levels in fish, but has systematically refused to take meaningful steps to address this problem. In addition to not listing mercury-impaired waters, the Bush Administration has changed the Clean Air Act regulations to allow dirty power plants, which are the main source of mercury contaminating these waterways, to emit more mercury. The Administration’s repeated failure to implement readily available solutions to reduce mercury pollution threatens the health of our communities. The Club's lawyers have filed a lawsuit to shine a spotlight on how inaction on mercury pollution threatens Florida’s communities and the environment. If successful, this lawsuit will force the administrations of both George and Jeb Bush to take action on waterways impaired by mercury, so that these waters can be cleaned-up.
Details and Documents:
Appeals Court overturns EPA policy on emissions
February 8, 2008, by Sandy Baurers, Philadelphia Inquirer
EPA's relaxed emissions rule struck down
February 8, 2008, by Matt Kapuzzo, Boston Globe
Related Case: Revoking Florida's Free Pass to Pollute
Sierra Club Press Release April 22nd, 2004
News Coverage from Channel 8 in Florida (2Mb Windows Media File)
See other "Retiring Old Coal" cases.