Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Michigan Mercury Emissions Still Hot Topic - Workgroups Formed

State of Michigan DEQ Newsletter "About the Air"

The DEQ has formed a state workgroup to address mercury emissions from Portland Cement Plants. Also, another workgroup was formed to aid in developement of Michigan's electric utility mercury rules.

See page 7 of this months newsletter.

West Virginia Defends Bush Mercury Plan

The Charleston Gazette

While many states have decided upon tougher mercury emission legislation, WV follows, and defends, the Federal program promoted by the Bush administration.

At least 22 other states have abandoned the Bush plan, instead submitting tougher pollution reduction rules to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Kenna Amos, a state Department of Environmental Protection engineer, said those other plans aren’t likely to work — at least not yet, because mercury-control technologies are not perfected.

“There are promising technologies, some of them are even being installed hither and yon,” Amos said. “But we do not believe that commercially available technologies exist.”

The full article is here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pennsylvania State Mercury Rule, Anything But Smooth Sailing

The Patriot-News

Just when praises from environmentalists and concerned citizens were being laid upon the IRRC and Gov. Ed Rendell for their foresight and upholding the public trust, a little rain is falling on that parade.

State Sen. Mary Jo White, R-Venango, said the state Environmental Quality Board cannot publish the regulations in the Pennsylvania Bulletin -- the final step before they become law -- until her committee approves them.

Her statement had state Department of Environmental Protection lawyers scrambling yesterday to see if she is legally correct.

"It becomes clear, however, that the committee's leadership may have reverted to back-room deals and procedural tricks during the lame-duck session to help them accomplish what they could not do in the light of day," DEP spokesman Kurt Knaus said yesterday. "This sudden and surprising action is breathtaking in its audacity to undermine the public will."

As Hg-ATME said in earlier posts, no state has battled over this issue like Pennsylvania. It just won't go away. Read the latest in this on-going debate.

DOE May Release 1300 Tons of Mercury

Chicago Tribune

While the country wrestles with Mercury emissions issues (Hg-ATME's very reason for existence) the Department of Energy may sell its stockpile of Mercury on the open market. This ironic twist of events is discussed in this article from the Chicago Tribune. To me it seems counter productive to sell this "captured" Mercury. You and I know it will only find its way into the environment somewhere, defeating the regulations our own government is pushing.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tennessee Urged to Join In

From The

Republican Senator Lamar Alexander is concerned the Federal rules do not go far enough to protect the citizens and the environment, specifically The Great Smoky Mountains.

“If the investigation shows that the Smokies are being harmed by mercury, then Tennessee may wish to adopt measures that go beyond the current federal mercury program for power plants, as some states are doing,” Sen. Alexander wrote. “The bottom line is that the federal mercury rule may not be strong enough to protect Tennessee citizens.

Read the rest here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Deadline Passes, 22 States Eye Tougher Mercury Emissions Rules

AP Story - International Herald Tribune

As the deadline passed Friday afternoon, 22 states have stated their intentions of being tougher on mercury emissions than the Federal CAMR regulations. As part of the CAMR each state had until Nov 17th to say how they would enforce the Federal rules or how they would go even further and enforce some stricter version of their own.

The 22 states listed as having tougher mercury-cutting plans than the federal government are: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

The rest of the states are roughly split among those accepting EPA's regulations as sufficient and those that are still trying to figure out what they plan to do, according to Dan Riedinger, a spokesman for Edison Electric Institute, a utility trade association that favors the EPA approach.

Although the deadline passed several states are still grappling and an extension seems all but assured. Read the whole AP article here.

Friday, November 17, 2006

...Some Don't

Electric Power Generation Association - Press Release

"EPGA is disappointed in the IRRC's approval of the DEP mercury reduction plan because we do not believe it serves the best interests of Pennsylvania in terms of jobs, the cost of electricity or electric reliability.

"The issue was not whether to reduce mercury emissions, but how to do it.

Read the full release here.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Some Applaud Pennsylvania Decision...

Harrisburg, PA - Yahoo News

Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) today praised the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) for voting 3 to 2 to approve new regulations proposed by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) which will protect the health of children by reducing toxic mercury pollution made by the state's coal-fired power plants.

More here.

Pennsylvania Moves One Step Closer

Central Pennsylvania - via AP

The Pennsylvania IRRC approved a controversial measure clearing the way for Pennsylvania to determine its own mercury emissions program, and thus veer away from the federal provisions. They got this done with one day to go on the deadline.

The vote by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission was the final regulatory hurdle for the proposal and came just one day before a deadline for the state to submit a mercury-regulation plan to the federal government. If the rule becomes final, Pennsylvania would be the first major coal-producing state to require a tougher-than-federal limit on mercury emissions from power plants.

Read more.

Yes, It's Colorado's Turn to Decide

Colorado - Rocky Mountain News

The debate rages today in Colorado as to how to comply with the Clean Air Mercury Rules, whether to follow the federal program that allows trading mercury credits, or devise a state plan with stricter guidelines.

Who pollutes how much "is not a decision that should be made by individual businesses based on financial interests," she said. "It's a public health decision."

But attorney Jim Sanderson, representing a coalition of utilities in the state, contends that the type of mercury produced by burning Colorado- and Wyoming-produced coal tends to linger in the atmosphere for months and has more of a global impact than a local one, therefore contributing little to the state's mercury-tainted lakes with fish advisories.

These types of comments are being made all over the nation now as a Friday Nov 17th deadline approaches for states to decide to follow the US-EPA CAMR or join a growing number of states to write their own rules. Read the rest of the article here.

Colorado Discusses State & Federal Plans

Denver, CO - Denver Post

Local Colorado governments join together to push for stronger state rules and reject the US-EPA approach. This excerpt states the case of one municipality's opinion, apparently shared by others.

"The EPA proposal and state proposal regarding emission trading is completely inappropriate," said Pam Milmoe, air/waste coordinator for Boulder County Public Health. "Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin, and there's increasingly solid evidence that speaks to local impacts from power plants."

Read the entire Denver Post article here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

AMA Strengthens Stance on Mercury Emissions

US Newswire

The AMA adopted more stringent policies regarding mercury emissions at their semi-annual policy-making meeting yesterday.

This new policy calls on the U.S. to take a leadership role at both the state and federal level to reduce national and global mercury emissions.

Read the whole story here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pennsylvania Debate Continues

Pennsylvania - The Patriot-News

A Sunday Op-Ed piece by Douglas L. Biden takes issue with the State DEP's stance. A brief exerpt follows.

Where we differ with DEP is in the use of market-based mercury allowance trading to comply with the second step in the mercury reduction program -- meeting the more stringent federal mercury emissions cap -- but not over how to comply with the basic 80 percent and 90 percent reductions by the deadlines DEP proposed.

Read more.

West Virginia Public Meeting

Charleston, WV - Charleston Daily Mail

In this notice picked up from the AP, West Virginians are invited to place their comments concerning mercury emissions into the public record. The Nov 28th meeting will be held in Charleston and video conferenced to sites across the state.

Get details here.

The Evolution of the Illinois Plan

Chicago, IL - Daily Herald

As Illinois pushes to meet the Friday deadline an article by Nicole Price Fasig in the Daily Herald gives a breif history of the Illinois plan and how it has progressed and what is hopefully next.

Illinois Trys To Beat Deadline

Chicago, IL - The Chicago Daily Southtown

In a Hg-ATME earlier post Kenneth Holmes, M.D., Neurologist pleaded his case in the Southtown, now the Editorial Staff at the suburban Chicago paper concurs, tougher Mercury emission standards are in order. Exerpt,

Environmentalists hope the legislative committee acts this week. A deadline of this Friday was imposed for states that wanted to set their own regulations to override federal pollution standards, which are far less stringent than those proposed in Illinois. Thus, it's imperative that the legislative panel act on these recommendations promptly, and we urge committee members to approve them.

Read the rest of the Editorial.

What About Cement Plants?

Michigan -

Although the CAMR only regulate Hg emissions from power plants significant Mercury emissions emanate from cement plants as well. In this article by John Flesher some interesting facts come out concerning cement plant emissions. I find it particularly interesting that some cement plants use captured flyash purchased from power plants as a raw material in their cement. This sounds like a good way to reuse waste and avoid landfilling this ash, but what is happening is the Mercury in the ash that was captured by the Air Pollution Control Devices at the power plant is now being emitted into the air at the cement plant. This exerpt explains; the mid-1990s Lafarge began adding fly ash from a Canadian coal-burning plant to its raw materials for cement. The ash contains so much mercury, it produces over half the total emitted while making up just 5 percent of the raw material volume...

You can read the entire article here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Pennsylvania Grapples With Mercury Emissions

Eastern Pennsylvania - The Morning Call

As Hg-ATME has followed Mercury emissions issues over the last few months Pennsylvania has repeatedly been in the news. They are struggling with the issue like no other state. It seems to be a tug of war between health concerns, recreational opportunities, jobs, local economy, everything near and dear to a populace. Their conflicts are not unique but their situation as the 2nd largest emitter of Hg from power plants in the nation, combined with a large coal base, makes their case worth following. In this article all sides present their cases. With whom do you agree?

Utilities & Environmentalists Agree? Yes! As N.C. Sets Own Stds.

Charlotte, NC - Charlotte Observer

Compromise is king. Neither side got everything they wanted, but that is what compromise is all about. Read here how N.C. is moving forward with their state specific rules.

Local M.D. Supports Mercury Regulations

Chicago, IL - Chicago Daily Southtown

A local neurologist expresses his opinion as a guest columnist on the mercury regulations working their way through the channels of becoming state law.
Read his complete comments here.

N.C. Environmental Management Commission Approves Tighter Stds

Wilmington, NC - WWAY-TV

North Carolina environmental groups praise state panel for decision.
Read Story Here.

Virginia Seeks Public Comments

Charlottesville, VA - "The Daily Progress"

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is seeking comments from the public as to how mercury emissionss should be set aside. Read entire article here.