- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Mercury is a persistent, toxic pollutant that accumulates in the food chain. Low concentrations in the air can reach lakes, rivers and estuaries, and eventually build up in fish tissue. Humans are exposed to mercury primarily by eating certain species of fish and warnings have previously been posted for pregnant women to avoid certain marine dishes.
Addressing some critics' concerns, Bush Administration officials pointed out in a news release that 80 percent of the fish eaten in the U.S. is from foreign sources, suggesting that a tightening of rules at home would not have a large-scale effect.
"This rule marks the first time the United States has regulated mercury emissions from power plants," said Johnson. "In so doing, we become the first nation in the world to address this remaining source of mercury pollution."
On March 21, the Washington Post reported that the EPA had failed to use information contained in a study jointly conducted by Harvard University and the EPA. That study concluded that health benefits could be 100 times as great as the EPA announced. It was further reported that there is some amount of disagreement as to how much weight should be given to the report.
The new rule would apply a cap and trade system on coal-fired utilities with the first phase cap set at 38 tons by 2010 and dropping to 15 tons by 2018. For more information on the mercury rule, visit www.epa.gov/mercuryrule.