Industry Groups Use Procedural Ruse to Block Mercury Regulation

, By Clean Wisconsin

MADISON — Tuesday, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the Wisconsin Paper Council and several other industry lobby groups filed a lawsuit in Dane County, asking the court to stop the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) rule that would force industry to reduce the amount of mercury coming from utility and industrial smokestacks. The groups claim that the DNR failed to provide a “scoping statement” during the rulemaking process.

“Industry is using a technicality to block DNR from protecting Wisconsin from the harmful effects of mercury in our water and air,” said Mark Redsten, Executive Director of Clean Wisconsin. “The scope of the proposed rule has been perfectly clear throughout the process, and these business groups are using this as yet another stall tactic, to avoid talking about the real issue: the dangerous impacts of mercury on our children.”

Mercury pollution is a serious threat to public health in Wisconsin. DNR has issued a fish consumption advisory for every inland body of water in the state due to mercury contamination. Exposure to mercury results in memory loss, speech difficulties, and neurological damage that impairs children’s cognitive development. While mercury pollution comes from a variety of sources, power plants and industrial boilers are Wisconsin’s largest emitters of this potent neurotoxin.

“It is disingenuous at best for these industry groups to claim concern about proper rulemaking procedure,” continued Redsten. “In fact, it is downright reckless and irresponsible to use these tactics to stall regulation of this highly toxic substance. WMC and other business lobbying organizations must not be allowed to hijack this important rule that protects children.”