EPA illegally yanked mercury rule after Trump inauguration -lawsuit

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By Jonathan Stempel

<span class="articleLocation”>As U.S. President Donald Trump takes aim at what
he considers an excess of federal regulations, a new lawsuit
accuses the Environmental Protection Agency of illegally
rescinding a rule to reduce the discharge of mercury from dental
offices, mere hours after Trump took office.

In a complaint filed on Wednesday, the nonprofit Natural
Resources Defense Council said the final rule was withdrawn on
Jan. 20, the date of Trump’s inauguration, after White House
Chief of Staff Reince Priebus directed federal agencies to “immediately withdraw” final rules slated for publication.

But the NRDC said the mercury rule could not be withdrawn
before its expected Jan. 24 publication in the Federal Register because it was subject to a Clean Water Act provision that, given the wording of Priebus’ memorandum, forbade withdrawal.

As a result, the EPA had no authority to rescind the rule
without first getting public comment, according to the NRDC, an
environmental advocacy group. Its lawsuit filed in Manhattan
federal court seeks to undo the rule’s rescission.

“The Trump administration, and President Trump himself, have
made it seem like it will be easy to wipe away environmental
protections for the American people,” David Goldston, director
of government affairs for the NRDC, said in an interview. “We
view this rule as one that is final, and which can be rescinded
only through the full rulemaking process.”

An EPA spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

Mercury discharged into the environment can damage people’s
health, including through seafood consumption.

Dentists nonetheless can use mercury safely in amalgams for
fillings.

The EPA rule would have reduced discharges by dental offices
of mercury and other metals into municipal sewage treatment
plants by more than 10 tons annually.

It would also have required dentists to adopt “best
management” practices recommended by the American Dental
Association. (here)

On Monday, Trump issued an executive order requiring many
federal agencies to eliminate two regulations for each new
regulation introduced. Trump is not a defendant in
the NRDC lawsuit.

The case is Natural Resources Defense Council v EPA et al,
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No.
17-00751.



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