Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has been on a four-year crusade to protect corporate profits from the tyranny of keeping our citizens from being exposed to the highly toxic heavy metal mercury. It all started when he joined other tea party extremists in suing the USEPA over new regulations on air emissions that lead to utilities having to do upgrades to coal-powered power plants to reduce the amount of mercury and other contaminants they spew into the environment.
Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that the USEPA needed to take the costs of regulations into consideration when promulgating new rules. However, they didn’t put a halt to the new power plant regulations while the agency revaluated the proposed new law to take costs into account and, in April of this year, the new pollution regulations went into effect. Then, two weeks ago, the SCOTUS declined to hear Schuette’s appeal to reject the new rules, essentially killing his efforts to prioritize corporate profits over public health and safety.
But, Schuette being Schuette, felt he had the duty to file yet another lawsuit file yet another lawsuit, this one in the U.S. Court of Appeals, to force the USEPA to review the new regulations again. This time, he’s doing it without the consent or approval of Gov. Rick Snyder.
Despite apparently losing support from Gov. Rick Snyder some time ago, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is continuing his opposition to the mercury pollution rules set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency.
On behalf of 15 other states, Schuette on Friday filed a petition for review of the EPA’s final mercury and air toxics standards rule with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request by Schuette to hear the case again. The EPA published final rules April 25 on mercury in the Federal Register.
[F]or some reason Schuette believes the Supreme Court, the D.C. Circuit Court along with Consumers Energy Co. and DTE Energy Co. – utilities that have gone on record saying they are prepared to meet the EPA’s new rules – are wrong.
In the case filing, Schuette named the petition, “Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, on behalf of the people of Michigan and the states of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas … .”
Notice the wording is on behalf of the “people of Michigan,” not on behalf of the state of Michigan, as is the usual phrasing.
Ari Adler, Snyder’s press secretary, said Snyder never has supported any of the appeals of the mercury rules.
These court cases cost enormous amounts of money and resources, all paid for by you and me when we pay our state taxes. Our state, already struggling under tremendous budget pressure thanks to corporate tax giveaways that carved a huge hole in our state revenues, now has to fund Schuette’s personal vendetta against the USEPA, a vendetta he’s pursuing to appease his corporate benefactors and to garner more tea party votes when he runs for governor in 2018.
Let’s be clear about the real and present danger of mercury. This is from a Detroit Free Press op-ed all but begging Schuette to stop his crusade:
Mercury, like lead, is a neurotoxin. Also like lead, mercury is most harmful to children and can impact fetal development leading to a lifetime of harmful effects on language, memory, visual-motor skills, and attention. Most mercury exposure comes from the consumption of fish. In short, mercury emissions from industrial sources like power plants are deposited on land and water where some is converted to methylmercury. This highly toxic form of mercury enters food chains and bio-accumulates in fish. When people eat contaminated fish they ingest and accumulate methylmercury in their bodies. Pregnant women share that mercury with highly vulnerable fetuses.
By now, of course, all of these warnings about heavy metal neurotoxins and their impacts on vulnerable children are far too familiar to Michiganders.
Considering Michigan’s current issues with the poisoning of its citizens with another toxic heavy metal and powerful neurotoxin (i.e., lead in the drinking water of Flint, Michigan), you would think that Schuette would finally just let this go. You’d be wrong. It doesn’t matter that the major utilities have already taken steps to comply with the new regulations. It doesn’t matter that over 50 Michigan scientists recently asked Schuette to drop his crusade. In fact, it doesn’t matter that the new regulations are expected to have a profound impact on the healthy and safety of our citizens and are cost effective in the long term:
“These practical and achievable standards cut harmful pollution from power plants, saving thousands of lives each year and preventing heart and asthma attacks,” said EPA spokeswoman Melissa J. Harrison. “Mercury is a neurotoxin that can damage children’s developing nervous systems, reducing their ability to think and learn. All told, for every dollar spent to make these cuts, the public is receiving up to $9 in health benefits.”
None of this matters to a tea party darling who has no problem spending precious tax dollars to promote his own corporatist ideology to win votes from those who hate the government. Bill Schuette is willing to shovel as much horse manure as he needs to to get himself elected in 2018 and his actions on this issue prove it.