Collins Joins Senators in Disapproving EPA Mercury Rule

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Collins Joins Senators in Disapproving EPA Mercury Rule

Leahy, Collins Introduce Resolution of Disapproval on EPA's Controversial Mercury Rule6/29/2005 11:44:00 AMTo: National Desk and Environment ReporterContact: David Carle of the Office of Sen. Patrick Leahy, 202-224-3693WASHINGTON, June 29 /U.S. Newswire/ "” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D- Vt.) today (Wednesday) will introduce a resolution of disapproval, cosponsored by a total of 30 senators, for the Administration's controversial new mercury rule. Chief Republican cosponsor of the resolution is Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). This is the third time that this procedure has been used under the provisions of the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The Leahy-Collins resolution of disapproval will be referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. If the committee does not take it up, Leahy in July intends to file a discharge petition. Congress has 60 legislative days to act, from the date Congress received the rule, April 21st. Following is a news backgrounder. Leahy's floor statement, the list of cosponsors of the Leahy-Collins resolution, and the full text of the resolution are available on request. Leahy has long led in Congress on mercury pollution issues and is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a senior member of the Appropriations subcommittee that handles the Senate's work in writing EPA's annual budgets."” News Backgrounder on the Resolution of Disapproval Relating to EPA's Mercury Rule - June 29, 2005 "”Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.), joined by 27 other senators, will introduce a resolution to halt EPA's rule to delist power plants as a source of hazardous air pollutants, such as mercury, under the Clean Air Act. The resolution will be introduced pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (CRA).BACKGROUND ON THE CONGRESSIONAL REVIEW ACT "” The discharge petition is the next step in the procedural process under the CRA to ensure the resolution is considered by the full Senate. The resolution of disapproval will be referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. If the resolution of disapproval is not acted on by the Committee, then a discharge petition signed by 30 senators will automatically discharge the resolution. If 30 senators submit a petition for this purpose, the measure is automatically discharged and placed on the Senate calendar, from which it may be called up for floor consideration. Though the CRA is not explicit, the Senate has treated motions to take up and consider disapproval resolutions, by whomever makes such a motion, as privileged matters that are not debatable. That would assure a Senate vote on the resolution.BACKGROUND ON EPA'S RULE "” The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued two new controversial mercury emissions rules. The first rule (the "delisting" rule) revokes a 2000 EPA decision that it is "necessary and appropriate" to require that each power plant apply technology to reduce mercury emissions. The other scheme gives utilities an extra 13 years before they would have to install any mercury-specific controls on power plants. Further, many plants will never have to install controls if they choose to simply buy their way out by purchasing allowances from other plants. The Leahy/Collins resolution deals only with EPA's "delisting" rule.MERCURY'S THREATS TO PUBLIC HEALTH "” Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that damages fetuses' and children's developing nervous systems. At least 44 states have issued warnings urging residents to avoid or limit their consumption of mercury-laden fish caught in local waters, and the federal government has recommended that children and women of childbearing age eat no more than two meals of low-mercury fish per week and avoid eating certain fish altogether.Recent analyses show that the estimate of infants with unsafe mercury levels in their blood has doubled to 630,000. The National Academy of Sciences has confirmed scientific research demonstrating that maternal consumption of unsafe levels of mercury in fish can cause neuro-developmental harm in children, resulting in learning disabilities, poor motor function, mental retardation, seizures and cerebral palsy.While Administration officials claimed stronger safeguards would exceed the benefits to public health, they failed to consider an EPA-funded, peer-reviewed Harvard University study showing that more stringent limits on power plant mercury pollution are both cost effective and necessary to protect public health. While ignoring the new EPA-funded Harvard study, EPA clearly considered input from polluting industries. In fact, EPA's first proposal for these rules lifted exact texts from memorandum provided by utility industry lobbyists.The resolution is offered to ensure that the health and safety of the American public is fully considered, before EPA is able to rescind its statutory commitment to protect public health from the dangers of mercury pollution. Leahy, chief sponsor of the resolution, believes that it is wrong to leave power plants as the only source of mercury and other toxic air pollution that is allowed to avoid rigorous emissions standards under the Clean Air Act. Doing that, he believes, poses undue risks to the public's health that the nation need not and should not accept.This petition, he noted, will now allow the full Senate to debate the merits of the EPA rule."It is time to put people first, and to stop letting the big polluters and the special interests write the rules and run the show over at EPA," Leahy said.[url=http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=49647]http://releases.u...