Greenwire: ELPC’s Learner Urges Michigan to Drop Fight Against EPA Mercury Rule

Michigan, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging U.S. EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, should drop its appeal and withdraw from the case, a Midwestern advocacy group urged this week in a letter to the state’s attorney general.

Following U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ refusal last week to freeze the rule, “It is time for the litigation challenging these important standards to come to an end,” Howard Learner, executive director of the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center, told Attorney General Bill Schuette (R). The organization late yesterday released the letter dated Tuesday.

Among other factors arguing in favor of dropping the case, Learner wrote: Michigan’s two largest coal plant owners, DTE Energy Co. and Consumers Energy, are already installing pollution control equipment to comply with the standards, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has recognized the public health threat of eating fish in which mercury has “bioaccumulated.”

In light of the lead contamination affecting the drinking water supply in Flint, Mich., Schuette “ought to be sensitive to the importance of reducing mercury pollution that harms children’s health and our environment,” Learner added in an interview this morning. A Schuette spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center operates around the Midwest, with an office in Grand Rapids, Mich. Nineteen other states have joined Michigan in challenging the standards; Learner said his group may make similar appeals to Iowa and others in the region.

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