A little good news on the environmental side. Obama’s team is putting some of Bush’s decisions on air quality out to pasture. First is the decision to drop an appeal of a New Jersey courts decision that required coal and oil fired power plants to install more stringent mercury controls on their emissions. Last year the appeals court rejected a Bush administration plan for regulating mercury emissions and was slated to go before the Supreme Court before the Obama administration submitted papers Friday to the court asking for the case to be dismissed. The power companies still have a separate petition challenging the court ruling and it is unaffected by this decision. At a green jobs conference in Washington Lisa Jackson, the new EPA Administrator, said the EPA would draft its own rules and set limits on mercury emissions. “We’re better off spending all our resources making rules that will stick instead of fighting the courts on this one,” Jackson said. Seventeen states and health groups both joined a lawsuit to block the Bush plan that would have allowed “hot spots” around power plants. Mercury is believed to cause neurological problems in infants.
In another EPA air quality case they have decided to let California and other states set more stringent air quality standards for auto emissions. This too will be challenged by industry I am sure, but it is a step in the right direction.

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