FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009
PA Chamber applauds court’s decision to strike down
unnecessary state mercury rule
HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry today applauded a state Supreme Court decision to throw out Pennsylvania’s costly and unnecessary mercury regulation rule.
On Dec. 24, the state’s highest court upheld a prior Commonwealth Court decision that invalidated the 2006 rule, which would have required coal-fired power plants to reduce mercury emissions by 80 percent in 2010 and more than 90 percent by 2015.
"Whether or not mercury should be regulated was never at issue," said Gene Barr, PA Chamber Vice President of Government and Public Affairs. "The debate centered on finding the best approach for controlling mercury."
The PA Chamber had been a vocal opponent of the state’s go-it-alone approach to mercury regulation, arguing that the rule would have provided no additional health benefits beyond federal mercury regulations, but would have lead to increased electricity costs for consumers, while threatening jobs and electric supply.
The PA Chamber believes the best approach is at the federal level, since mercury does not respect state borders and nearly 50 percent occurs naturally. In addition, only 1 percent of worldwide mercury emissions come from U.S. coal-fired power plants.
Federal action will result in significant reductions in mercury emissions and a level playing field for power plants in all states.
The PA Chamber was not alone in its opposition. Concerns that a state-specific approach would likely lead to higher energy costs and job losses within the coal and electric utility industry were reasons why a broad range of interests – including power producers, consumers and labor unions – also opposed the Department of Environmental Protection’s regulation.
The PA Chamber had also taken exception to the campaign of scare tactics and misinformation used by some environmental groups in their efforts to generate support for the state mercury rule.
"The Supreme Court’s decision validates the reasonable objections that existed over an unnecessary environmental regulation that would not have offered any commensurate public health benefit, but that would have come at a great cost to the Commonwealth’s job creators and residents," Barr said. "We hope the lesson learned is that regulation must be based on sound science and thoughtful debate, and must balance the need to protect the environment with the need to safeguard job creation and economic growth.
"This clearly did not occur with regard to mercury, which makes the court’s ruling all the more satisfying."
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state’s largest broad-based business association, with its membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of Business.