A Perfect Storm: Mercury and the Bush Administration, Part Ii
14 Pages Posted: 1 May 2004
The Environmental Protection Agency's recent proposal to regulate mercury emissions from power plants, and its final rule on mercury emissions from chlor-alkali facilities, suffer from serious scientific, legal, economic, and distributional flaws. The first installment in this series examined the strong scientific basis for regulating mercury emissions and critiqued the agency's decisions from a legal perspective. This second (and final) installment finds that EPA's decisions also fail from the perspectives of economics and environmental justice. EPA and the Office of Management and Budget's economic analysis of the proposal to regulate mercury from power plants was shoddy and one-sided. EPA and OMB chose to analyze only one level of emissions control in their economic analysis, despite the fact that even their very limited analysis showed an astonishingly positive cost-benefit profile (with net benefits of $13 billion) for the very weak proposal EPA offered. Yet no one appears to have questioned whether even larger benefits might have been gained from a more stringent rule. On the distributional side, EPA's proposal to allow commercial trading in this toxic substance reads like a policy don't list for emissions trading: the cap for mercury emissions is exceedingly porous and weak, and hot spots are virtually inevitable under EPA's proposed program. In short, EPA's proposals on mercury are a disaster. They should be withdrawn and a new proposal, consistent with existing law and sensible policy, should be developed.
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