Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

>Date: Fri, 04 Feb 2005 07:48:37 -0700

{Predetermined findings: At the CDC, so the data were diluted. At the
IOM, who ignored so many data and decreed: do not research these
concerns.  Far more mercury pours forth from many ASD kids than was
injected by physicians and nurses.  -Teresa }

E.P.A. Accused of a Predetermined Finding on Mercury


WA$$$HINGTON, Feb. 3 - The Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general charged on Thursday that the agency's senior management instructed staff members to arrive at a predetermined conclusion  favoring industry when they prepared a proposed rule last year to reduce the amount of mercury emitted from coal-fired power plants.

Mercury, which can damage the neurological development of fetuses and
young children, has been found in increasingly high concentrations in
fish in rivers and streams in the United States.

The inspector general's report, citing anonymous agency staff members
and internal e-mail messages, said the technological and scientific
analysis by the agency was "compromised" to keep cleanup costs down for
the utility industry.

The goal of senior management, the report said, was to allow the agency
to say that the utility industry could do just as good a job through
complying with the Bush administration's "Clear Skies" legislation as it
could by installing costly equipment that a stringent mercury-control
rule would require.

Cynthia Bergman, a spokeswoman for the environmental agency, responded
that the criticism "is not true." The agency, she said, has "wide
latitude" in determining which data should be used to set a pollution
control standard based on the best available technology. She said the
mercury rule scheduled for release by March 15 "would take us from no
regulation to a mandatory 70 percent cut."

Coal-fired power plants are the largest remaining domestic source of
mercury emissions in the United States, according to agency figures,
although the agency believes that factories and utilities in Asia, which
emit more than 1,000 tons of mercury annually, contribute significantly
to the mercury that enters the food chain in the United States. Domestic
coal-fired power plants emitted 48 of the 113.2 million tons produced in
the United States in 1999.

The Clear Skies legislation is under consideration in the Senate's
Environment and Public Works Committee, and the release of the inspector
general's report gives new ammunition to Democrats and environmental
groups, which had accused the Bush administration of giving preferential
treatment to the utility industry in the legislation.

Clear Skies is intended to achieve a 70 percent cut in mercury and two
other major pollutants, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, but extends
to 2018 the amount of time that previous legislation would have given
the industry to comply. It also proposes a system of trading pollution
credits, similar to the one used successfully in the 1990's to reduce
acid rain. Even if the legislation fails, the environmental agency has
prepared a regulation that mirrors it.

Like the mercury proposal, this proposal on nitrogen oxides and sulfur
dioxide incorporates a mechanism for trading pollution credits.

The report said the agency's staff was instructed to determine that the
best pollution-control methods available to power plant owners would cut
mercury emissions to 34 million tons from 48 million tons, a result that
was approximated the third time the agency made its computer
calculations. Earlier results showing that this technology might achieve
greater reductions were rebuffed by senior managers, the report said.

It concluded that the agency should go back to the drawing board and
"conduct an unbiased analysis of the mercury emissions data."

Senator James M. Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who is chairman of the
Environment and Public Works committee, lashed out at the inspector
general, Nikki Tinsley, a Democrat who has recently issued another harsh
critique charging the agency's senior management with politically driven
interference in regulatory deliberations.

"This is another example that Nikki Tinsley has politicized the office,"
he said in a statement. And Scott Segal, director of the Electric
Reliability Coordinating Council, an industry trade group, said the new
report and an earlier critique appear "to go well beyond the expertise
of the office."

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the defeated Democratic
presidential nominee, issued a statement saying that Ms. Tinsley's
report revealed "one of the most disturbing examples I've seen of an
administration allowing spin and junk science to endanger the health of
our children." And Bill Becker, the executive director of a coalition of
state and local air pollution control officials, said: "The I.G.'s
findings are troubling, but not unexpected. Nearly every state in the
country has issued fish consumption advisories due to mercury-poisoned
waters. E.P.A. must comply with the law and require stringent cleanup
measures at utilities."