Posts Tagged ‘Air Pollution’

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another Victory Over Adirondack Mercury Pollution

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an attempt by the Bush administration and the utility industry to reinstate a mercury-control regulation that would have allowed increased mercury pollution in the Adirondacks. According to the ADK’s Neil Woodworth, this is the “final nail in the coffin of this ill-advised regulation, which left the Adirondacks and Catskills vulnerable to continued mercury contamination.”

In January 2007, ADK filed a brief with the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia asserting that Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) was an illegal attempt to weaken the strict mercury emission controls set forth in the Clean Air Act. Here is a little history of the legal battle over mercury pollution from the Adirondack Mountain Club:

In February 2008, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) won a major victory when the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia threw out the CAMR, a cap-and-trade program that allowed polluters to buy pollution credits and emit mercury without pollution controls. CAMR resulted in regional mercury “hot spots,” and two recent studies have linked coal-fired power plants to mercury hot spots in the Adirondacks and Catskills. The appeals court ruled that the EPA mercury plan conflicted with the clear language of the federal Clean Air Act, which requires each power plant to install the best technology available to reduce mercury emissions by as much as 90 percent.

The Bush administration and the utility industry appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Although the Obama administration withdrew the federal government’s appeal, the industry continued to pursue the case. Today, the Supreme Court dismissed the industry’s writ of certiorari, thus upholding the appeals court’s decision in the case.

The decision means that EPA must now promulgate regulations requiring each power plant to install the most advanced pollution controls to reduce its mercury emissions. Here is more from an ADK press release:

In enacting the Clean Air Act, Congress provided for strict limits on mercury emissions through the installation of maximum achievable control technology, which Congress made applicable to all coal-burning power plants. By contrast, the EPA administrative rule challenged in this lawsuit would have delayed for two decades the elimination of airborne mercury emissions as a source of mercury toxins in the Northeast.

Furthermore, the contested rule would have allowed many of the worst polluters to buy “pollution rights,” continue to release mercury up their smokestacks and perpetuate mercury hot spots in New York and the Northeast.

The Adirondacks and Catskills are downwind of numerous coal-burning power plants, whose mercury emissions contribute significantly to mercury pollution in these regions. A 2007 independent study by the Charles Driscoll and the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation estimated that mercury emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants are responsible for 40 percent to 65 percent of mercury deposition in the Northeast.

Current levels of mercury deposition in the Northeast are four to six times higher than the levels recorded in 1900. Ninety-six percent of the lakes in the Adirondack region and 40 percent of the lakes in New Hampshire and Vermont exceed the recommended EPA action level for methyl mercury in fish.

Because of high mercury levels in fish from six reservoirs in the Catskills, state health officials have warned that infants, children under 15 and women of childbearing age should not eat any fish from these reservoirs. Mercury is also present in two-thirds of Adirondack loons at levels that negatively impact their reproductive capacity, posing a significant risk to their survival.

New York State recommends that no one eat more than one meal per week of fish taken from any lake, river, stream or pond in New York State. There is a complete (and disturbing) list and map of the Adirondack fish advisories from the New York State Department of Health located here. It lists 55 Adirondack lakes from which “children less than 15 years old and women who are pregnant or who might one day become pregnant should not eat any fish.”


Monday, October 27, 2008

ADK Vows to Fight Bush’s Latest Attack on Clean Air

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has vowed to vigorously oppose the Bush administration’s efforts to reinstate a federal regulation that would expose the environment to mercury contamination.

In February, a federal appeals court ruled that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) conflicted with the clear language of the federal Clean Air Act, which requires power plants to install the best technology available to reduce mercury emissions. Now, the administration is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse that decision.

CAMR, a cap-and-trade program, allowed polluters to buy pollution credits and emit mercury without pollution controls, which in turn resulted in regional mercury “hot spots.” Two recent studies have linked coal-fired power plants to mercury hot spots in the Adirondacks and Catskills.

ADK has joined with more than a dozen states, leading medical, health care and public health groups, and several prominent national environmental advocacy groups to challenge CAMR. In January 2007, ADK filed a brief with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia asserting that CAMR was an illegal attempt to weaken the strict mercury emission controls in the Clean Air Act.

Last Friday, acting Solicitor General Greg Garre filed a petition asking the high court to restore the EPA mercury rule. The power industry is also seeking a Supreme Court review of the case.

In enacting the Clean Air Act, Congress provided for strict limits on mercury emissions through the installation of maximum achievable control technology, which Congress made applicable to all coal-burning power plants. By contrast, the EPA administrative rule would have delayed for two decades the elimination of airborne mercury emissions as a source of mercury toxins in the Northeast.

Furthermore, the contested rule would have allowed many of the worst polluters to buy “pollution rights,” continue to release mercury up their smokestacks and perpetuate mercury hot spots in New York and the Northeast.

The Adirondacks and Catskills are downwind of numerous coal-burning power plants, whose mercury emissions contribute significantly to mercury pollution in these regions. A 2007 independent study by Charles Driscoll and the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation estimated that mercury emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants are responsible for 40 percent to 65 percent of mercury deposition in the Northeast.

Current levels of mercury deposition in the Northeast are four to six times higher than the levels recorded in 1900. Ninety-six percent of the lakes in the Adirondack region and 40 percent of the lakes in New Hampshire and Vermont exceed the recommended EPA action level for methyl mercury in fish. Because of high mercury levels in fish from six reservoirs in the Catskills, state health officials have warned that infants, children under 15 and women of childbearing age should not eat any fish from these reservoirs.

A long-term study by the Wildlife Conservation Society, released earlier this year, confirmed that human-generated mercury emissions are degrading the health and reproductive success of loons in the Northeast. High mercury levels have also been recorded in eagles, songbirds, otters and other animals in the Northeast.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Court Guts Acid Rain Clean Air Rules

Forwarded from the Adirondack Council fyi:

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia [Friday] struck down a crucial component of the federal government’s rules that were designed to curb the Midwestern air pollution that damages Northeastern forests and lakes and causes lung disease.

“By striking down the Clean Air Interstate Rule, the US Court of Appeals has left all of the Northeastern states vulnerable to acid rain and fine particles of smoke that damage people’s lungs,” said Scott Lorey, Director of Government Relations for the Adirondack Council, a national leader in the fight against acid rain. “CAIR was our only hope that significant reductions would be made over the next decade in the Midwestern smokestack pollution that has killed our forests and fish, tainted our drinking water and poisoned our food and wildlife with mercury. Now the rule is gone – struck from the books. We need quick action from the US Environmental Protection Agency to reissue the rule. Failing that, Congress must act right away to pass a bill that would require similar, or deeper, cuts in smokestack pollution. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Adirondack Council Releases "State of the Park" Report

From John Sheehan, Communications Director for The Adirondack Council, we recently recieved the Council’s 21st annual State of the Park Report. You can view and download a low-resolution version from their website at www.adirondackcouncil.org.

According to Sheehan:

State of the Park is a non-partisan report card on the political decisions and actions that had the greatest impact — good or bad — on the health and well-being of the six-million-acre Adirondack Park over the past 12 months. You will find that State of the Park is the most detailed and comprehensive annual environmental review produced for any park in the United States. However, it is written for a general audience, not scientists, making it a useful tool for environmentally minded voters.

The Adirondack Park comprises 20 percent of New York State’s total land area. It has only 130,000 permanent residents, but hosts nearly 10 million visitors a year. The park contains 90 percent of all roadless Wilderness from Maine to the Everglades.

In furtherance of the Adirondack Council’s goal of holding public officials accountable for their actions, the Council doesn’t accept public grants or taxpayer-funded donations of any kind.

We know the Council has had its absolutley crazy moments – like when it supported Bush’s “Clear Skies” b-shit early in his first term.

Remember this, from Bush’s visit to help clearcut Whiteface?

I also call for new clear skies legislation, to set new tough standards to reduce air pollution. For decades, New Yorkers have been fighting acid rain. The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments helped reduce the problem. And now we should do more at the Federal level. Some of the biggest sources of air pollution are the powerplants, which send tons of emissions into our air. Therefore we have set a goal: With clear skies legislation, America will do more to reduce powerplant emissions than ever before in our Nation’s history.

Sure folks, clear [ahem] skies.

Anyway, while they certainly disappointed us then, the Adirondack Council actually spends time and energy trying to protect the Adirondacks – for that they deserve our thanks.