MADISON — Today Clean Wisconsin, Sierra Club, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and Wisconsin Wildlife Federation congratulated Governor Doyle, the Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Department of Justice for their victory over the Bush Administration’s illegal attempt to deregulate mercury emissions from coal fired power plants.
Under the Clean Air Act, the U.S. EPA under President Clinton found coal fired power plants to threaten human health due to mercury emissions. According to the Clean Air Act, this required power plants to install pollution controls to remove more than 90% of mercury emissions from the smokestacks. However, in 2005, after intense lobbying from the coal industry, the Bush Administration reversed course and attempted to substitute weak mercury limits for the stringent ones required by the Clean Air Act.
Governor Doyle, DNR and the Department of Justice joined with environmental groups, Native American Tribes, and other states in challenging the illegal Bush Administration flip-flop on mercury pollution.
David Bender, an attorney for the Wisconsin environmental groups, said: “In today’s decision the conservative Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia slammed the Bush Administration for using ‘Queen of Hearts logic’ to justify its mercury deregulation—substituting the Administration’s desires for the plain langue of the Clean Air Act.”
According to federal and Wisconsin state law, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources must immediately begin including stringent mercury limits in air pollution permits for coal fired power plants.
Wisconsin was the third state in the nation to establish mercury regulations in 2004, and did so ahead of the EPA regulations. “This ruling removes the weak federal regulation and clears the way for Wisconsin to again assume a leadership role in protecting our children from mercury poisoning,” said Keith Reopelle, Program Director for Clean Wisconsin.
Wisconsin currently has fish advisories for all lakes and streams in Wisconsin to protect health. Mercury can affect children’s brain development even before birth, and recent research shows cardio-vascular health can be impaired in older adults. WI Department of Health studies indicate about ,9000 children born every year could be affected by mercury’s toxic effects.
“This is a great day for anglers and fish lovers living in and visiting Wisconsin. We will now join all other states in reducing mercury coming from coal-fired power plants by more than 90%,” said Eric Uram, Conservation Chair for the John Muir Chapter of Sierra Club. “This means less air pollution, less water pollution and cleaner fish for all to eat.”