Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Another Bush Plan to Reward Corporate Polluters

From American Progress Action .....Administration to Unveil Polluter-Friendly Mercury Plan , March 15, 2005

The Bush administration's new plan to curb mercury emissions is a gross handout to polluters and industry. It will reduce toxic mercury pollution at a much slower rate than other more environmentally favorable plans while instituting a cap-and-trade system, which lets dirty power plants buy credits from cleaner ones.

The president's plan would make mercury pollution worse not better. Every year, power plants emit 48 tons of toxic mercury into the atmosphere. President Bush likes to claim his plan will reduce mercury pollution by 70 percent by 2018. But he won't tell you that this represents a large step backwards from previous efforts. The Bush administration rolled back a plan a 2000 Clinton White House plan which "would have mandated curtailing emissions at every plant by the maximum amount possible, which proponents said could bring a 90 percent reduction in three years using existing technology," according to the LA Times.

The administration allowed the polluters to write their own laws and regulations. The EPA's mercury emission rules were partially drafted by the very energy companies they're supposed to regulate. In April 2003, a group of eight power plants reviewed the administration's plan and submitted a "wish list" of changes to weaken regulations. The Washington Post last year found that, in a side-by-side comparison of the rules and the power-plant memo, at least "a dozen paragraphs were lifted, sometimes verbatim, from the industry suggestions."

Under the president's plan, some power plants will be allowed to increase mercury pollution while others will profit from selling their credits to the worst offenders. The cap-and-trade system will produce so-called "hot-spots," localized areas of severe pollution and contamination. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes today: "There's no gentle way to put it: The White House is ignoring the public's will, betraying the public's trust and endangering the public's health by proposing weak mercury regulations for the nation's power plants."

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