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Coalition of 16 states renews challenge to EPA mercury emissions rules

[JURIST] New Jersey Attorney General Zulima Farber [official profile] on Monday filed a court petition [press release] on behalf of 16 states seeking to reactivate a lawsuit [JURIST report] filed last year against the Environmental Protection Agency [official website]. The lawsuit challenged the EPA's "cap-and-trade" policy, scheduled to take effect in 2010, which permits power plants to buy mercury emissions reduction credits from other power plants whose emissions fall below the cap. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia [official website] halted the lawsuit last year when the EPA agreed to reconsider the rules, but the agency released its new rules on May 31 [EPA press release] without revising the cap-and-trade policy. The lawsuit also challenges the EPA's decision to remove coal- and oil-fueled power plants from the list of utilities subject to the strictest emissions controls.

In addition to New Jersey, the coalition of states comprises California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. The states argue that the mercury pollution rules will endanger children living near power plants that buy credits to pollute more than their limit. Mercury from power plants can enter nearby waterways and eventually be consumed by humans who eat contaminated fish, possibly damaging the nerves, heart, brain and kidneys. AP has more.

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