Finds that the Wisconsin DNR performed necessary economic analysis

MADISON — The Dane County Circuit Court today dismissed an attempt from Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the Wisconsin Utility Investors, and the Wisconsin Paper Council to obtain a court order blocking the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from continuing work on the proposed mercury rule. The Court rejected the groups’ claim that the DNR failed to properly perform the necessary economic analysis regarding the proposed rule.

“We’re glad that the Court threw out this lawsuit so that the important work of reducing mercury pollution can continue” said Mark Redsten, Executive Director of Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization.

Mercury pollution represents a serious threat to the public health of Wisconsin. Chronic exposure to mercury results in memory loss, speech difficulties, troubles with vision, and cardiovascular problems in adults. Children and the unborn exposed to mercury can face neurological damage that impairs development, leads to low intelligence and inhibits school performance. People are generally exposed to mercury by eating fish that live in polluted lakes, rivers and streams.

“Mercury pollutes our air and water, threatening our health and a Wisconsin fishing tradition,” Redsten said. “When technologies exist to reduce mercury pollution, we must hold utilities accountable and ensure they do everything within their power to protect our environment and our health.”

The DNR proposal would require coal-fired power plants to reduce mercury emissions by following one of two paths. Operators of such plants could choose between reducing mercury emissions by 90 percent by 2015 or could extend that deadline until 2021 by agreeing to more stringent limits on nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, which increase the methylization of mercury, making it more toxic to people, fish and wildlife.

Clean Wisconsin along with a coalition of environmental groups has asked the DNR to strengthen the proposal by requiring utilities to reduce mercury emissions even sooner.

The Natural Resources Board is expected to vote on the proposal at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday.