U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Agrees to Mercury Emissions Deadline

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (UPI) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to issue rules covering power plants’ mercury emissions by 2011, documents indicate.

A consent decree filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington detailed an agreement with environmentalists and public health groups in which EPA officials agreed to a Nov. 16, 2011, deadline to close longstanding gaps in its regulation of mercury and other toxic substances from coal- or oil-burning power plants, The New York Times reported.

Less than one-third of U.S. coal-burning power plants have basic “scrubbers” for such pollution, in which tiny particles of mercury, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, dioxins and other toxic substances are thrown into the atmosphere, John Walke of the Natural Resources Defense Council told the Times.

But energy industry groups and big electricity consumers are likely to challenge the rules emerging from the consent decree in court, the newspaper said.

Scott Segal of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council reportedly warned that forcing utilities to speed up their ongoing efforts to cut mercury emissions would raise electricity costs and send pollution-producing manufacturing activities overseas.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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