EPA Postpones Final Decision on Mercury Regs

Under a withering storm of criticism — hundreds of thousands of public comments, outraged punditry, and earlier this month, a letter from 45 senators — U.S. EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt announced yesterday that the agency would delay release of final regulations governing mercury emissions from power plants to allow more time for public comment and scientific study. The EPA was under court order to issue regulations by Dec. 15, but the Natural Resources Defense Council, which filed the suit, agreed to have the regs delayed until March 2005. “We asked EPA to take the time to do the proper analysis that the White House would not let them do,” said NRDC’s John Walke. “And now the agency has to go back and come back with a rule that will truly protect our children.” The delay puts the final decision off until after the start of a new presidential term. If President Bush wins the election, he can push through the unpopular, industry-friendly regulations with little fear, while if John Kerry wins, he’s likely to scrap the plan and start over.