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EPA appeals court challenge to its mercury regulation
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    WASHINGTON — The Bush administration has appealed a court ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency violated the federal Clean Air Act when it issued less stringent requirements to reduce mercury releases from power plants.
    The Justice Department, on behalf of the EPA, asked that the full Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reconsider the ruling in a lawsuit brought by New Jersey and 16 other states.
    A three-judge appeals court panel in February struck down the EPA regulation which allowed for a pollution trading system to reduce mercury emissions from power plants, instead of requiring each plant to install the best available mercury controls.
    The Justice Department, in seeking a review of the decision, argued in a filing late Monday that the three-judge panel misinterpreted the federal clean air law and required ‘‘inappropriate and unnecessary emissions standards for power plants.’’
    It maintained the ruling would needlessly delay mercury emission reductions by forcing the EPA to abandon its 2005 regulation that calls for a 70 percent cut in mercury releases over the next decade.
    The states’ lawsuit maintained that the EPA plan, allowing power plants to purchase emissions credits instead of making pollution reductions, creates mercury ‘‘hot spots’’ near some plants. Instead the states want all plants to be required to install the best available pollution controls, which could lead to mercury emission reductions of 90 percent or more.
    Separately, a group of electric utilities also filed a petition with the full appeals court, asking for a review. The Utility Air Regulatory Group, argued that the EPA has the discretion to regulate emissions in a way it considers necessary and appropriate.
    The group includes electric generating companies and trade associations representing power companies and coal interests.

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