New England States Band Together To Reduce Mercury Pollution From Power Plants

Brian Barth

Contact:
Colin Durrant
Director of Communications
(617) 850-1722

(April 11, 2007) For the first time in the nation, the six New England states and New York have joined together to set Clean Water Act standards that force a 90 percent reduction in out-of-state mercury pollution from sources including the Midwest’s coal-fired power plants. The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), which has been pressing for the tough, new mercury reductions standards, applauded the move.

“The Bush Administration has failed to hold Midwest power plants accountable for the damage they have done to our air, water and soil,” said Christopher Kilian, Director of CLF’s Clean Water and Healthy Forests Program. “Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that is directly impacting the health of New England ’s people and environment.”

The states today released their mercury pollution reduction plan under the Clean Water Act through a draft TMDL, or total maximum daily load, which is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still meet its water quality standards, and an allocation of that amount to the pollutant’s sources. The TMDL calls for 90 to 95 percent reductions in mercury emissions in Midwest power plants through existing reduction control technology. The TMDL concludes that implementation of such controls is achievable and cost-effective and should commence immediately.

The seven states pointed to elevated levels of mercury in fish populations throughout the region. Accordingto the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC), 10,175 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, 46,207 river miles, and an additional 25 river segments are listed as impaired primarily due to atmospheric deposition of mercury.

“It’s clear that the federal government’s mercury reduction plan won’t clean up our waters and make our fish safe to eat,” said Melissa Hoffer , Vice-President and Director of CLF’s New Hampshire Advocacy Center. “Now the New England states and New York are using their legal authority under the Clean Water Act to protect our health and safety from this dangerous, toxic pollution.”

All of the New England states and New York have implemented aggressive mercury reduction programs to deal with the severe, widespread mercury pollution in the region. After public hearings are held in the region, the states will submit the mercury TMDL to Environmental Protect Agency for approval. Under the Clean Water Act, EPA is under strict 30 day deadlines to approve or disapprove the TMDL.

Many of the involved states, along with CLF, are plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the Bush administration’s Clean Air Mercury Rule on the grounds that it allows continued excessive emissions of mercury from powerplants in the Midwest .

For more information visit: http://www.neiwpcc.org/mercury/

The Conservation Law Foundation works to solve the environmental problems that threaten the people, natural resources and communities of New England . CLF’ s advocates use law, economics and science to design and implement strategies that conserve natural resources, protect public health, and promote vital communities in our region. Founded in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization. It has offices in Boston , Massachusetts ; Concord , New Hampshire ; Providence , Rhode Island ; Montpelier , Vermont ; and Brunswick , Maine.

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