Flurry of Charges Leads EPA to Revisit Mercury Regs

Amid a swirl of angry charges from states, environmental groups, and its own employees, the U.S. EPA is promising to revisit controversial proposed regulations on mercury emissions from power plants. Several EPA staffers — who remain anonymous to avoid retaliation — revealed what enviro groups have long suspected: The process whereby the regulations were developed was driven almost entirely by political appointees doing the bidding of industry lobbying groups and a sympathetic White House. According to the staffers, an expert advisory board’s 21 months of work was ignored and staffers were instructed not to conduct the analysis the board requested. Language for the regulations was taken directly from industry lobby proposals. The EPA claimed its regs would reduce mercury emissions from power plants by 70 percent by 2018, but its own database reveals this to be utterly implausible. EPA chief Mike Leavitt is now backing away from the claim and promising to conduct the very analysis staffers were forbidden to undertake previously. Leavitt called post-regulatory analysis the agency’s “normal process.”