In a significant happening, President Obama has dropped a Bush Administration appeal of an air pollution case. It now appears the government will embrace tougher rules to cut mercury emissions from power plants and that’s good news. The case was due to be considered by the Supreme Court. The Obama Administration asked the court to dismiss the case. An appeals court had rejected a Bush Administration plan for regulating mercury emissions. It said the plan shouldn’t have included allowing utilities to purchase emission credits instead of actually reducing emissions. An appeal was taken, scientists fear mercury pollution leads to neurological problems in infants.
This was the first outright reversal of a legal position taken by the Bush Administration at the Supreme Court. The power industry still has a separate petition challenging the appeals court ruling, which is unaffected by the Obama Administration’s action. The Administration has signaled it is breaking with Bush’s course on several issues. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says that the Obama Administration will draft its own rules under the Clean Air Act to curb mercury emissions. She said the EPA would likely set limits on the toxic metal from power plants and other sources.
Environmentalists had argued that the Bush system would create “hot spots” of mercury contamination near some power plants. Seventeen states and health groups joined the lawsuit to block the regulation, and the appellate court sided with them. The EPA will now develop appropriate standards to regulate power-plant admissions.
Source: Associated Press
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