The Bush environmental agenda suffered another blow this morning when a federal appeals court ruled that the administration's policy of allowing coal- and oil-fired power plants to avoid making mandatory cuts in mercury and other toxic air pollutants was illegal. The decision invalidates what the White House had dubbed the "Clean Air Mercury Rule" — a term environmentalists derided as Orwellian.
The Conservation Law Foundation, a petitioner in the suit, celebrated the decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, saying that the administration's rules "would have allowed dangerously high levels of mercury air pollution to persist under a weak cap-and-trade program for utilities." That program would not have taken effect until 2020.
Fourteen states, dozens of American Indian tribes, public health and environmental groups, and organizations representing nurses and physicians challenged the EPA's rules. Power plants release 48 tons of mercury each year.