Roberts Denies Mercury Stay

by Daniel Farber | March 03, 2016

Chief Justice Roberts turned down a request this morning to stay EPA’s mercury rule. Until the past month, this would have been completely un-noteworthy, because such a stay would have been unprecedented. But the Court’s startling recent stay of the EPA Clean Power Plan suggested that the door might have been wide open.  Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be true.

In some ways, a stay in this case would be even more shocking than the earlier one. Only the states, not industry, were seeking the stay. Some industry members even argued that a stay would just disrupt their planning. Moreover, as the government pointed out, the states were seeking review of a very narrow issue: whether the D.C. Circuit should have vacated the rule pending a remand to the agency. Since the agency plans to act within the next six weeks, this issue would have become moot well before the Court could decide it.

Still, given the Court’s completely ...

Key Environmental Developments Ahead in 2016

by Daniel Farber | January 04, 2016
Here are seven of the most important developments affecting the environment. 2015 was a big year for agency regulations and international negotiations. In 2016, the main focal points will be the political process and the courts. Here are seven major things to watch for.  The Presidential Election. The election will have huge consequences for the environment. A Republican President is almost sure to try to roll back most of the environmental initiatives of the Obama Administration, undoing all the progress that has been ...

Michigan v. EPA: Still Hope for the Mercury Rule

by Robert Verchick | June 29, 2015
Today the Supreme Court blocked a key effort by the Obama administration to keep unsafe levels of mercury and other toxins from spilling into our air. The ruling, issued in Michigan vs. EPA, is a loss for the EPA and public health advocates. But the damage can be contained and will hopefully not prevent the agency from re-issuing its so-called Mercury Rule under a rationale that can satisfy the Court’s newly divined decision-making standards. At issue was whether the Clean Air Act ...

Thousands of Babies Clapping: Lisa Jackson Brings Mercury Home

by Rena Steinzor | March 16, 2011
My bet is that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson will do a little victory dance in her office before going home this evening. She’s earned it. After 20 years of false starts, EPA is issuing today the first proposed rule to control poisonous mercury emissions from power plants. They’re doing it despite a concerted blast of coal company and electric utility lobbying at the upper levels of the White House. Jackson’s achievement is testimony to her exemplary leadership of EPA in ...

In Coming Utility MACT, EPA Has Clean Air Act Authority to Make Big Strides in Protecting Americans from Mercury Pollution

by Catherine O'Neill | March 11, 2011
By Wednesday of next week, EPA is due to publish its long-anticipated rule controlling mercury emissions from coal-fired utilities.  This is how we ought to judge the rule: does it follow the mandate of the Clean Air Act (CAA)? For too long, utilities have managed by various means to fend off regulation required by the CAA. Assuming EPA’s rule at long last complies with Congress’s directives, Americans may look forward to a day when they can again eat fish without serving their families ...

EPA's New Boiler Rule Will Deliver Reduced -- But Still Huge -- Health Benefits

by Catherine O'Neill | February 24, 2011
This post was written by CPR Member Scholar Catherine O'Neill and Communications Specialist Ben Somberg. The announcement from EPA Wednesday creating final standards for pollution from industrial boilers is being described by the press as “scale[d] back,” and “half the cost of an earlier proposal.” Those things are true, but the new regulation is no small matter. It will have a significant and positive effect on the health of people across the country and beyond. Says the Sierra Club: "Though the ...

NY Governor Paterson Holding up Mercury Reduction Initiative; Who Pays the Price?

by Ben Somberg | May 28, 2010
The Albany Times Union had a nifty, if depressing, scoop over the weekend in "Paterson bottling up mercury ban at plant": Efforts by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to ban mercury-tainted coal fly ash used by a Ravena cement plant have been bottled up for more than 19 months in a special regulations review office of Gov. David Paterson. The DEC request to yank permission from Lafarge North America for ash use at its Route 9W plant has been ...

EPA Chides Polluters for Downplaying Risk From Portland Harbor Superfund Site; Still, Must Honor Fishing Tribes' Rights

by Catherine O'Neill | February 11, 2010
In a welcome move, EPA recently took polluters to task for their attempt to downplay the risks to human health and the environment from the Portland Harbor superfund site along the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon (h/t Oregonian for noting the EPA action). As part of the cleanup effort for the site, the polluters, known as the Lower Willamette Group (LWG), had agreed to conduct an assessment of the risks posed by the contaminants there. This risk assessment will serve ...

Reducing Mercury Emissions From Coal-Fired Power Plants: Yes We Can (And Could Have, Years Ago)

by Catherine O'Neill | October 26, 2009
Three recent developments in the saga of efforts to regulate mercury emissions from coal-fired utilities are significant. Early last week, Michigan became the twenty-third state to require coal-fired utilities within its jurisdiction to reduce their mercury emissions. Michigan’s regulation requires these sources to cut mercury emissions by 90% by 2015. Then, on Thursday, the EPA reached a settlement with environmental groups who had sued the agency for failing to act to regulate mercury emissions. In the agreement (see NYTimes also), ...

Rohlf in Oregonian on Mercury Fight in Oregon

by Matthew Freeman | September 06, 2009
CPR's Dan Rohlf had an op-ed in The Oregonian on Friday, taking the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to task.  Faced with news that the nation's largest emitter of mercury pollution is a cement plant in the state, DEQ moved quickly to...defend the polluter.  Rohlf writes: The biggest mercury polluter in the entire United States is a cement factory in eastern Oregon. This fact has not escaped notice of the state's environmental watchdog, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.  The ...

USGS's Study on Mercury in Fish: Trouble in the Water

by Catherine O'Neill | August 20, 2009
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) issued a report today finding widespread mercury contamination in U.S. streams. The USGS found methylmercury in every fish that it sampled – an extraordinary indictment of the health of our nation’s waters. The USGS reported that the fish at 27% of the sites contain mercury at levels exceeding the criterion for the protection of humans who consume an average amount of fish, as established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But EPA’s criterion grossly ...

In NYC Area, Contaminated Fish on the Plate

by Ben Somberg | July 31, 2009
More New Yorkers are fishing off area piers in this economy, and, in many cases, eating unsafe amounts of fish contaminated with PCBs and mercury. That was the thrust of a NY Daily News report earlier this month. They also reported that there were extremely few signs alerting the public to any kind of danger. New York City official soon responded that they'd put up more warning signs. CPR Member Scholar Catherine O'Neill discussed the fish contamination issues on WNYC's ...

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