Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nova Scotia Implements National Mercury Emission Standards

Nova Scotia announced today the Province will implement the Canadian National Standards for mercury emissions from coal burning power plants. The standard reduces mercury emissions by 70% from pre-2001 levels by 2010.

An excerpt from the press release in Nova Scotia's Canada Environment and Labour follows;

"We're pleased to be able to move forward with the implementation of the national standard," said Mark Parent, Minister of Environment and Labour. "We are committed to reducing our environmental footprint and protecting human health, and these regulations will help us do that."

The full release is here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Great Falls, MT - Mercury In Its Past, Mercury In Its Future?

I came across a very nice story written in the Great Falls Tribune by Richard Ecke. He recognizes the 25th anniversary of the falling of an old plant's smokestack and very eloquently remembers the days of a bygone era, when pollution was tolerated, at least to some extent, for the jobs it created in the area. Folks living there knew they were being exposed to nasty stuff but it became a way of life because the plant was most of their livelyhoods.

Great Falls is now in the cross-hairs of another tall stack looking to "cast its shadow" on the locals. The newly proposed Highwood Generating Station is looming and the town and the surroundings can't help but think about the old and the new.

I love this story because it makes one reflect on where we as a nation have been and where we are going. The first couple paragraphs below should get you hooked too. I hope so, it is well worth the read.

Gone are the days when the Anaconda Co. smokestack in Great Falls belched smoke and most residents turned a blind eye to the pollution emitted by the industrial plant.

For a good chunk of the 20th century, the smelter and, later, metals refinery, in Black Eagle were the community's largest employers. In its final 30 years, its mostly union members earned increasingly higher wages and benefits from one of the state's most powerful companies.

Read on.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Beijing Olympics - Plan To Use Mercury Seeding To Clear Skies For Games - MORE Chinese Mercury Emissions!?!

This one is very hard to believe, but considering the "source" not so very. In an attempt to make the polluted skies in Beijing look clear for the TV cameras for the '08 Summer Olympics, Chinese officials are toying with shooting mercury into the clouds above the city to create a rainfall that will result in micro-pockets of clean air. Like we don't have enough Chinese mercury in the air already.

This excerpt from Sports Business Radio;

Scientists have recently been shooting mercury in to the clouds in Beijing to produce rain and thus clear the air in small pockets of the city. Why? They plan on using anti-aircraft machinery to shoot mercury in to the sky above the Bird's Nest, which will serve as the home to the opening and closing cermonies. Thus, when you watch these ceremonies on TV, for the few hours that these events take place, the Chinese hope to manipulate the air quality and make it look like its clear skies in Beijing to the viewers on TV.

The full article is here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Its Metalicious - New Study Shows Direct Link - Stack Mercury Emissions to Fish Levels

Not really metalicious, but close. A yet unreleased study will show the direct link between mercury emitted from coal burning stacks and other industrial sources, to increasing levels in fish. This study may help us understand exactly what our efforts to reduce mercury emissions may have and how long it will take.

An excerpt from EurekAlert follows;

The study concludes that if mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants and other industrial activities were to be cut immediately, the amount showing up in fish would begin to go down within a decade.

It will appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America online edition next week.

This breakthrough study (called METAALICUS – Mercury Experiment to Assess Atmospheric Loading in Canada and the United States) involved government agencies and universities on both sides of the border. It has global implications.

Pennsylvania Plan Gets EPA Approval

The mercury emissions reduction plan spear headed by PennFuture and embraced by Governor Edward Rendell, that was contentiously debated for months in Harrisburg, has been approved by the EPA and can be implemented as written. This plan is important because it came through significant opposition in a coal state. But, as we have pointed out before in Hg-ATME, tough mercury laws can actually help local coal companies.

Excerpts from the PR Newswire follow;

"This is excellent news for Pennsylvania," said Governor Rendell.
"Enacting our mercury emission reduction plan protects our citizens,
reduces the levels of this dangerous toxin in our air, and paves the way
for growth in our coal industry."
"My two-part mercury reduction strategy takes a much stronger stance
than the weaker federal rule that allows companies to reduce mercury
emissions at power plants in other states, and trade those reductions for
higher emissions at Pennsylvania plants. That does a tremendous disservice
to the people of Pennsylvania, as it does nothing to reduce pollution
Because many power plants are installing scrubbers, Pennsylvania's
mercury reduction plan also creates new opportunities for the coal
producers. Pennsylvania coal has a relatively high sulfur and mercury
content compared to coal from many western states, but with the
installation of scrubbers to remove these pollutants, coal from the
Keystone State will be more desirable for electric power producers.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Not Much Happening in Mercury Regulations World - Idaho Reconsidering

While I have been away on vacation for some of the last month the lack of posting is more attributed to a lack of movement in mercury regulations from very many States.

While Nebraska opted to stick with the Federal CAMR last month, the only State I see discussing the CAMR is Idaho. They currently have no coal fired units and originally looked to opting out of cap and trade and would thus eliminate the possibility of any new coal fired plants in the State.

Since they have no current plants in existence the CAMR alloted Idaho zero mercury emissions. If they opt out of cap and trade, they have no way to account for any new mercury emissions. By staying in the trade program they can purchase credits to offset any new plants.

From the Times News or;

The Idaho Conservation League, an environmental group with a hard-line anti-mercury stance, is encouraging its supporters to attend Thursday's meeting at the Red Lion Hotel, 1357 Blue Lakes Blvd. The group says the meeting signals a policy shift that may open the door for coal-based energy production in Idaho via a federal cap-and-trade program.

"I believe this will set the stage for an Idaho plan to opt Idaho into the mercury cap-and-trade program," Courtney Washburn, an ICL spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail circulated in early July.

The full article can be read here.

The meeting was held and quote a few residents chose to speak out against allowing cap and trade. Some highlights from the meeting;

The south-central Idaho residents who filled the Oak Room at the Red Lion Hotel Canyon Springs had only one thing to say about opting in to a federal cap-and-trade program for mercury emissions: No, no and definitely no.
"We must be the conscience and the mind and the soul of our environment," Twin Falls Dr. David McClusky said. In this case, he said, the board needs to avoid scientific thought "that says you have to support both sides of a scientific argument, not just the one supported by facts."