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Clinton Critical of Bush Administration Mercury Rules

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – The Bush Administration's plan to regulate mercury emissions at power plants is being criticized by US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mercury is one of the emissions from coal-fired power plants, something residents of this area need to be concerned about because of the presence of such plants here.

Wednesday, the New York Times reported the Bush Administration made subtle changes to the language of proposed rules on mercury pollution that largely downplayed the chemical's health risks. Senator Clinton said the energy industry apparently had undue influence on the development of the rules.

"We known for weeks that several sections of the proposed rules were lifted verbatim from materials provided by lobbyists," Clinton said. "We've asked for an explanation as to how that happened and have received no response."

Clinton is calling for Senate hearings into the process by which the Administration developed its mercury rules. Clinton said she's especially troubled by one provision that would allow power companies to buy and sell mercury pollution rights. She said that's a non-starter.

"Mercury is a toxin. The idea that we would allow mercury to be traded, creating hot spots of mercury around plants that buy credits, instead of installing pollution controls, is unacceptable," Clinton said.

Under the proposed rules, the Bush administration would give power plants up to 15 years to install technology to reduce mercury pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency claims the trading system Clinton opposes would remove as much as 33 tons of mercury emissions by 2018.