Attorney General Joins Multi-State Effort
To Defend Federal Mercury Emissions Standards
HARTFORD –Attorney General George Jepsen joined today with attorneys general of 10 other states and the District of Columbia seeking to defend an air emissions rule that would reduce the amount of toxic mercury discharged by electric power plants by 90 percent.
Massachusetts filed a motion today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, seeking permission to intervene in a case that challenges the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule.
Attorney General Jepsen, on behalf of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), joined the motion to intervene, along with the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Illinois, Iowa and New Mexico; and New York City.
“Connecticut joins this coalition of states to defend against challenges to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that seeks to control mercury emissions,” Attorney General Jepsen said. “This pollution poses a human health risk especially to children and the most vulnerable in the population. Reducing emissions of mercury is critical and will yield significant public health benefits.”
DEEP Commissioner Daniel Esty said, “EPA’s mercury emissions rule is a major step forward for air quality and public health, and also levels the economic playing field. For too long, other states have been able to benefit from cheaper electric power generated by dirtier power plants – while the harmful pollution this causes is carried here by prevailing wind patterns.”
“We appreciate the efforts of the Attorney General’s Office in going to court to defend this important rule,” Esty said.
The EPA estimates health benefits of $37 billion to $90 billion annually from the reductions. Mercury is highly toxic to humans, especially to developing fetuses and children, and wildlife. Deposited mercury can change into methylmercury, a more toxic form, which can accumulate in the food chain and cause serious illness and learning disabilities.
The (MATS) rule issued by the EPA in February requires sources of mercury emissions to reduce those levels substantially by installing, within three years, various control technologies already available in the market and used in the industry. The rule has since been challenged by various Industry groups, including the National Mining Association.
As a sector, electric generating plants are the largest domestic source of mercury emissions in the United States. Installation of the control technology would also result in substantial reductions of other toxic metals, small particulates and sulfur dioxide from those same sources.
The cost to the industry to install the technology needed to meet the new rule is estimated between $3 billion and $9 billion annually.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Levine is handling this matter for the Attorney General with Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Massicotte, head of the Environment Department.