Mercury Reduction Plan Calls for Downwind Policing
Seven states recently submitted a cleanup plan to EPA to further
reduce mercury entering the states' waters from a range of pollution
The states -- New York, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont -- seek to link violation of Clean
Water Act standards to EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act to
control mercury emissions. The plan, the Northeast Regional Mercury
Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), was a collaborative effort between the
New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) and
the states. This plan targets a 75 percent reduction in mercury
emissions by 2010 and virtual elimination of mercury pollution in the
region thereafter, officials said.
As part of the regional Mercury Action Plan adopted by the Northeast
state governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers in 1998, state mercury
reduction programs and regulations far exceed federal requirements,
officials said. Northeast states have reduced mercury emissions from
sources in the region by more than 55 percent overall, with many states
exceeding 70 percent reduction since 1998.
However, mercury levels in fish are still too high to permit human
consumption. Because more than 70 percent of the mercury impacting New
England is currently imported from upwind air pollution sources, the
states will not be able to solve this problem without stronger federal
regulations, officials said.
"In order for our lakes and ponds to be restored completely, mercury
pollution in New England, which comes mostly from out-of-region
sources, must be reduced by 86 percent to 98 percent," said Ian A.
Bowles, Massachusetts secretary of energy and environmental affairs.
"EPA needs to make sure that the mercury reduction efforts in the
Northeast region are matched in states across the country."
The current EPA Clean Air Mercury Rule will control mercury
pollution from coal-fired power plants by about 70 percent and not
until after 2020. The rule also allows for pollution trading, which can
contribute to mercury "hot spots," according to Northeast environmental
officials. Northeast states are requiring that 90 percent to 95 percent
mercury control be achieved by 2012, without trading.
In conjunction with submitting the plan, the Northeast state
environmental agencies, along with their partner interstate
organizations, issued a report that documents progress to date on
lowering mercury emissions and releases within the region. The report,
"Northeast States Succeed in Reducing Mercury in the Environment,"
highlights innovative and effective programs that are resulting in
tangible and positive improvements, officials said.
More information on the TMDL plan and the report can be found at http://www.neiwpcc.org/mercury.