Court Rejects Emission ‘Trades’
EPA Effort to Limit Mercury Output Is Said to Ignore Law

By David A. Fahrenthold and Steven Mufson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, February 9, 2008; Page A03
A federal appeals court yesterday threw out the Environmental Protection Agency’s approach to limiting mercury emitted from power-plant smokestacks, saying the agency ignored laws and twisted logic when it imposed new standards that were favorable to plant owners.

The ruling, issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, was another judicial rejection of the Bush administration’s pollution policies. It comes less than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court rebuked the administration and the EPA for refusing to regulate greenhouse gases.

This court’s critique — which undid a controversial program to “trade” emissions of mercury, a potent neurotoxin — was especially sharp. It compared the EPA to the capricious Queen of Hearts in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” saying the agency had followed its own desires and ignored the “plain text” of the law.

“What the administration did when they came in was to essentially try to torpedo environmental regulations,” said James Pew, a lawyer with the activist group Earthjustice who worked on the case. “This really is a repudiation of the Bush administration’s environmental legacy.”

Coal-fired power plants are responsible for about a third of the country’s total mercury emissions. In the Washington area, mercury pollution in waterways has triggered advisories against consuming too much fish from the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River and other bodies of water……CLICK ON LINK TO READ