States file suit against EPA over mercury rule

A coalition of nine states has sued the U.S. EPA, claiming the mercury emissions rule it issued earlier this month will do less to protect public health than the Clean Air Act requires. The suit charges the EPA with breaking the law by exempting power-plant mercury emissions from the Clean Air Act’s requirement that “maximum available control technology” be used to remove pollutants. The agency claims the exemption was necessary to implement the rule’s cap-and-trade program, which allows cleaner plants to sell credits (read: the “right” to pollute) to dirtier plants. Attorneys general representing the nine states — California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Vermont — say cap and trade will produce toxic “hotspots” around polluting plants, often in low-income and minority communities.