Monday's court decision represents a successful conclusion of a long legal battle, Woodworth said, by the Adirondack Mountain Club and a national coalition of health and environmental organizations and several state governments. This coalition had argued the Bush policy was an illegal attempt to weaken the strict mercury emission controls set forth in the Clean Air Act.
The decision means that EPA must now promulgate regulations requiring each power plant to install the most advanced pollution controls to reduce its mercury emissions. In enacting the Clean Air Act, Congress provided for strict limits on mercury emissions through the installation of maximum achievable control technology, which Congress made applicable to all coal-burning power plants. But the Bush-era EPA policy would have delayed for two decades the elimination of airborne mercury emissions as a source of mercury toxins in the Northeast.
The Adirondacks and Catskills are downwind of numerous coal-burning power plants, whose mercury emissions contribute significantly to mercury pollution in these regions, according to multiple studies.