Monday, August 28, 2006

Clean Air Mercury Rule : 1st Time Mercury Regulated

The Clean Air Mercury Rule is the first-ever rule to regulate mercury emissions from power plants. Finalized in March 2005 and reaffirmed in May, it is supposed to achieve an approximately 70 percent reduction in mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants when fully implemented. The Clean Air Mercury Rule creates a market-based cap-and-trade program that will permanently cap utility mercury emissions. The first phase of the rule sets a cap of 38 tons and in combination with the Clean Air Interstate Rule will reduce emissions from 48 tons to 31 tons beginning in 2010.

The new EPA rule is intended to cut emissions to 38 tons, a 21 percent reduction from 1999 levels (48 tons), in 2010 and to 15 tons, or about a 69 percent reduction, in 2018. Mercury can be found in home thermometers and school science labs, but enters humans primarily through the consumption of fish that have bioaccumulated mercury deposited from the atmosphere. From 1990 to 1999, total airborne emissions of mercury in the United States dropped from 209.6 tons to 113.2 tons, roughly 5 percent of worldwide manmade emissions. Mercury emissions from power plants are responsible for about 48 of the 113 tons. (Source: EPA)

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