CAMPBELL CRITICIZES PROPOSED
EPA MERCURY AND AIR QUALITY RULES
(04/08) PHILADELPHIA -
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)
Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell testified today at a federal
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing regarding
EPA's proposed rules for mercury control and interstate
Prior to the hearing, Commissioner Campbell
joined parents, scientists, doctors and regulatory officials
from New York and Pennsylvania at an event organized by
the National Environmental Trust, voicing significant criticism
of the Bush EPA's proposed rules that will weaken controls
protecting the public from harmful mercury emissions.
"Clearly in the choice between families
and polluters, President Bush is willing to leave every
child behind in order to reward industry and campaign contributors,"
said Commissioner Campbell. "It is shameful that the
Bush EPA is putting children at risk by delaying and weakening
long overdue controls on mercury emissions, even though
cost effective controls are readily available."
The Bush Administration's proposed mercury
controls would let coal-fired power plants trade credits,
gaining financially for mercury emission reductions already
mandated by the Clean Air Act. The Bush proposal would reduce
plants' mercury emissions by only one-third of what the
Clean Air Act requires and would allow many plants to continue
their mercury emissions unabated. The cap-and-trade form
of mercury controls would allow several times more emissions
than a Clinton-era plan that called for a technology-based
control standard for all facilities. The Bush scheme also
extends the deadline for full compliance to 2018 from a
court-approved deadline of 2007.
In contrast, New Jersey proposed in January
tough new restrictions on mercury emissions from coal-fired
power plants, iron and steel melters, and municipal solid
waste incinerators. The rules will reduce in-state mercury
emissions by over 1,500 pounds annually and reduce emissions
from New Jersey's coal-fired power plants by 90 percent
by 2007. New Jersey's standards must be met by federal leadership
because more than one-third of mercury deposition in New
Jersey is from sources in upwind states.
Exposure to the most toxic form of mercury
comes primarily from eating contaminated fish and shellfish.
Children and pregnant women are especially susceptible to
mercury contamination, which can cause permanent brain damage
to the fetus, infants, and young children. Mercury exposure
has been shown to affect the ability of children to pay
attention, remember, talk, draw, run, see, and play.
Even exposure to low levels can permanently
damage the brain and nervous system and cause behavioral
changes. Scientists estimate up to 60,000 children may be
born annually in the United States with neurological problems
leading to poor school performance because of mercury exposure
while in utero.