WASHINGTON - February 24 - "Today the Bush administration released details of its proposed mercury pollution trading program, allowing polluters to buy and sell the right to spew poisonous mercury into the air, leaving some communities at greater risk than others decades longer. The proposal underscores the Bush administration's disregard for the health and safety of those at risk from mercury pollution.
"EPA's own analysis of this proposal demonstrates that coal-fired power plants will fall far short of the program's stated mercury-reduction goals. Due to so-called "banking" provisions, polluters will be able to trade and save pollution credits for future use. This means that a power plant that doesn't spew mercury today could do so in years to come.
"The EPA estimated that one in six women of childbearing age have mercury levels in their blood high enough to put their babies at risk. That means approximately 630,000 newborns are at risk each year. This is a doubling of their previous assessment.
"There's a better way. In 2001, EPA estimated that enforcement of the Clean Air Act would lead to a 90% reduction in mercury pollution from power plants by 2008. The administration's proposal allows more pollution for far longer. EPA should require polluters to use technology to reduce mercury pollution as soon as possible, and protect our children and communities."