Saturday, April 15, 2006

Mercury Regulation Falls to the States

Since Bushco is corporately blinded to the issue, the states are stepping in to reduce mercury use and pollution.

Maine passed legislation to reduce and eventually eliminate mercury use.

Boston Globe: New laws will reduce toxic metal in environment

The latest bill signed by [Gov. John] Baldacci calls for reducing the existing mercury emission limit for an individual source from 50 pounds per year to 35 pounds after Jan. 1, 2007, and then to 25 pounds per year after Jan. 1, 2010.

Baldacci marked the occasion by drawing attention to other mercury-reduction bills he's signed in recent days and weeks, saying they move Maine "substantially closer to the goal of eliminating man-made sources of mercury emissions." He said the Maine laws have become models for other states.

"The effects that mercury can have on your health can range from acne to impaired brain development and everything in between. It depends on the type of mercury and how you came in to contact with it," the governor said.

Other newly enacted Maine laws require manufacturers to set up a system to collect and recycle unused mercury thermostats by offering incentives worth at least $5 per thermostat, and ban the sale of button cell batteries that contain mercury -- including consumer products that contain button cell batteries -- as of July 2011.

A new law will take initial steps toward recycling of old cell phones, which contain lead, mercury and other materials that can pose health risks if released into the air, water and ground. The final law requires the annual reporting of the volume of mercury amalgam supplied to dentists in the state.

A group of 11 states including Massachusetts is suing the federal government because the new federal mercury emission rules violate the Clean Air Act. The Massachusetts Attorney General, Tom Reilly, sued EPA to get the documents EPA considered in promulgating these rules. This week a federal magistrate in Massachusetts (Robert B. Collings, appointed by Ronald Reagan, no leftie he) ordered the EPA to turn over the documents.

EPA is ordered to release documents on mercury rule

The EPA's mercury rule allows dirtier power plants to buy air pollution credits from cleaner facilities, a market mechanism the agency says will reduce mercury pollution 69 percent by 2018. But critics say technology exists to reduce mercury even further at a low cost and that the EPA's rule allows hot spots of mercury pollution to develop near power plants that pay for the right to pollute.

The EPA argued it did not have to release the documents because it was part of a deliberative process and exempt under the Freedom of Information Act. But Collings said the agency did not prove that the documents were exempt.

''We will now be able to see the documents that the EPA has tried to keep hidden," said Reilly. ''By making the facts available, the public will now be able to understand the choices the EPA is making and whether the agency is meeting its important responsibility to protect the public health and welfare."

Nevada companies released 3.9 million pounds of the 4.6 million pounds of mercury released in the United States in 2004 so the state has (finally) stepped in:

Salt Lake Tribune: Mercury levels stir new outcry

Elyssa Rosen, senior policy adviser at Great Basin Mine Watch, said the latest information ought to raise concern, particularly among Utah and Idaho residents whose lakes and streams are being contaminated with mercury drifting from Nevada gold mines. Her group, examining newly released data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory for 2004, noted that Nevada remains the nation's mercury hot spot, releasing more of the toxic metal into the air and water and onto the land than any other state.


Last month, the Nevada Environmental Commission approved the first mercury controls for the gold industry, whose largest companies have operated under voluntary curbs for four years.

40% of fish caught in Illinois exceed federal guidelines for mercury:

Chicago Tribune: 40% of state's fish high in mercury, study says
Data cited in report cover 2 decades

High mercury levels found in waterways throughout Illinois led Gov. Rod Blagojevich earlier this year to make an election-year push to dramatically reduce mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants, the top source of the metal.


Blagojevich has called for a 90 percent reduction in mercury pollution from power plants during the next three years. If adopted, the rules would be far more stringent than federal limits proposed by the Bush administration, which would require coal plants to cut emissions by 70 percent by 2018.

The percentage of mercury-contaminated fish in Maryland is even higher: 59%.

Baltimore Sun: Mercury report details toxic fish
Study finds 59% of catch in Md. waters contains unsafe levels for infants, kids

Pick praised the Healthy Air Act recently passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. The law will require coal-burning power plants to install equipment to limit emission of mercury and other pollutants. Pick urged the governor to push hard to incorporate the mercury-reduction provisions as the model for a regional approach when the 13 Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states of the Ozone Transport Commission meet in June.

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