Thursday, June 16, 2011

New federal air standards proposed for mercury

Tougher new federal air standards proposed for toxins like mercury would provide huge benefits in Illinois, according to a new report from the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

It says those benefits range from healthier kids and lower healthcare costs for businesses, to being able to eat fish from local streams, rivers and lakes.

The feds held hearings on the proposed new standards last month, and are expected to finalize them over the next few months. Howard Learner of the Environmental Law and Policy Center says in Illinois, protecting children's health needs to be a priority.

"It's time for both industrial boilers and for coal plants to clean up, reduce the amount of mercury pollution that's going into the environment and lead to safer water in the Great Lakes, in our rivers and streams, and protect kids' health," Learner said.

Learner says Illinois made progress in reducing mercury pollution after a 2006 agreement required coal plants in the state to install mercury controls. But he adds the federal standards would be the first to reduce mercury from industrial facilities as well as coal plants.

Some members of Congress have vowed to fight the proposed rules, saying they will hurt business and cost jobs.

Jennifer Fuller, WSIU


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