EPA inspector general finds proposed mercury rule biased for industry

Brace yourself — your entire worldview is about to be shaken. Turns out, in coming up with its new rules on power-plant mercury emissions, the U.S. EPA violated agency protocol and ignored scientific evidence in order to stay in line with a predetermined goal that favors industry. Such is the conclusion of a new report from EPA Inspector General Nikki Tinsley. Said one EPA staff member present at meetings between administrators and staff, “Everything about this rule was decided at a political level. … The political level made the decisions, and the staff did what they were told.” The rules ended up exactly in line with those proposed in Bush’s Clear Skies legislation, which would institute a cap-and-trade system and give power plants until 2018 to reach targets on emissions reductions. The report was promptly attacked by industry groups, Senate Environment Committee Chair James Inhofe (R-Okla.), and EPA Assistant Administrator (and former industry lobbyist) Jeffrey Holmstead, who said the rule-making process isn’t even over and accused Tinsley of being politically biased.