EPA appointees bypass staff and advisory council

Washington –-Political appointees in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bypassed staff members and a federal advisory panel to draft a new mercury emissions rule that was preferred by the White House, according to several longtime agency employees. EPA staffers were instructed not to conduct the usual scientific and economic studies called for under a standing executive order. The new rule, tied to President Bush’s "Clear Skies" initiative, would cut mercury emissions by 70 percent over 15 years, but critics say it would delay mercury level reductions for decades, at a risk to public health, while saving the power and coal industries billions of dollars.