EPA to Regulate Mercury Emissions from Coal-Fired Power Plants

National Wildlife, April-May 2001 | Go to article overview

EPA to Regulate Mercury Emissions from Coal-Fired Power Plants


In action long sought by the National Wildlife Federation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it will issue the first national standards to limit mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The move is a significant victory for NWF's Clean the Rain campaign, which for the past two years has publicized the health hazards posed by mercury and generated grass-roots support for regulations to control it.

The more than 86,000 pounds of mercury emitted annually from the nation's 464 coal-fired power plants are the leading source of mercury air pollution. Through rain and snow, mercury in the atmosphere makes its way into lakes and streams, where it is ingested by fish and then by people and wildlife that eat the fish. Mercury is such a potent toxic that, even in tiny amounts, it can cause devastating effects on the human nervous system and the reproductive systems of fish, frogs and birds.

In its two Clean the Rain reports, NWF documents mercury contamination in the Great Lakes region and in New England, where precipitation contains as much as 73 times the level of mercury that EPA considers safe for surface water.

As the lead organization pressing for EPA action, NWF also coordinated the efforts of the environmental coalition working on the issue and sponsored lobbying days in Washington, D. …

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