Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | January 5, 2009

Environmental lawyer Sanders says Kentucky Division for Air Quality is drafting regulations to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Back in November 2008, Kentucky regulatory officials announced they are starting to work on drafting regulations that would reduce the amount of mercury put into the air by coal-fired power plants.   It is too early to tell where such efforts will lead.  However, look for industry to fight any attempt by the Kentucky Division for Air Quality to restrict mercury air emissions from coal fired utility plants.


In the meantime, several states have enacted air emission regulations that affect the electricity generation sector.  The states include Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. The state regulations govern emissions of NOx, SO2, CO2, and mercury from coal-fired electric generating plants. 


State mercury emission restrictions are in place because there is no federal regulation regulating mercury emissions.  When coal is burned, mercury is released into the atmosphere, where it is carried in the wind in water vapor. It eventually returns to earth in the rain and snow that falls into wetlands, streams and lakes. Deposits of the metal also leach from the soil and are carried into bodies of water by runoff. Over time, mercury works its way up the food chain in aquatic systems and is found in minute quantities in fish flesh. Mercury is especially harmful to the developing bodies of young children.


In Kentucky, every river, stream, and other bodies of water is under a mercury advisory, and women and children are urged to restrict their intake of fish. Click here for more information.


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