Wednesday, September 16, 2009

For those of you interested in mercury issues:


Communities and Individuals Form Coalition Focused on Mercury Reduction within

Broad Environmental Policy


 September 9, 2009—The Mercury Free Partnership has developed a draft of legislation which would reduce 90% of harmful mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, the largest emitter of mercury in the United States. This draft, called the Mercury Reduction Act of 2009, would target coal-fired plants which emit more than 100,000 pounds of mercury into the air each year. In fact, the EPA estimates that about 250 pounds of mercury are currently pumped out of U.S. coal-fired plants into the atmosphere every single day, contaminating our nation’s air and water supplies. Contamination not only poses a multitude of health risks to extremely vulnerable citizens, but it also significantly affects the economic interests of related industries. This is an important initiative because so much attention has been focused on global climate change; what has to be realized is that immediate mercury reduction alone would significantly enhance environmental and health benefits in our world. The purpose of this draft is to initiate dialogue with all concerned stakeholders in order to develop a finalized piece of legislation.

The Mercury Free Partnership believes that the new administration will be taking the necessary steps to curb various industrial emissions and ensure that citizens are protected from many harmful chemicals produced by the market. To make certain that mercury emissions are not swept under the rug in this crucial time period, the Mercury Free Partnership will focus on engaging Congress to work on delivering sensible mercury reduction legislation in the coming session. This can be done with new green technologies that will save lives, create jobs and build momentum for comprehensive environmental change.

The Proposed Legislative Principles of the Mercury Reduction Act of 2009

The key elements of the proposal are as follows:

  • Phased reductions that are achievable by utilities versus one hard standard.
  • 80% of capture inlet mercury by 2012 (a level that can be met with current technology).
  • 90% of capture inlet mercury by 2015.
  • Flexible monitoring systems.
  • Excess emissions penalties of $50,000 for each pound of mercury emitted over the limit.

These points show how the Mercury Reduction Act will deal directly with the problem of mercury, and will do so in an immediate manner. According to Hazel N. Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference, more focus is needed on particular legislation: “While we recognize the desire to also tackle the broader air issues, we fear that those issues will get bogged down in partisan wrangling, or most likely litigation, and we will end up with years more of pollution impacting our community.” The Mercury Reduction Act will serve as interim bridge to current legislation, providing one national standard for mercury reduction, while providing measureable, achievable reductions of mercury from coal-fired plants. Most importantly, the MRA provides a significant environmental benefit in an area not addressed by larger climate change legislation moving through Congress: mercury reduction.

Mercury emissions are a major health issue with serious financial impact, but technology exists today that can clean up to 90% of airborne mercury emissions from coal-fired plants.

There are many effective technologies to reduce mercury. One such technology is called Activated Carbon Injection (ACI). It has been found to reduce 90% of the mercury emissions from waste incinerators.  A small amount of activated carbon is injected into the plant ductwork where it captures the gaseous mercury and then is removed along with the plant’s fly ash in particulate collectors.  This highly effective environmental solution is very cost-effective, costing only about $1 per month per residential customer for 90% reductions according to a detailed 2004 study by the National Wildlife Federation, and significant cost reductions have been made since then.

Recent evaluations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have confirmed that the technology to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by up to 90% percent exists. In testimony submitted to the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, John B. Stephenson, Director of Natural Resources & Environment at the GAO, explains how sorbent injection systems have demonstrated the ability to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants anywhere from 80 to 90%.

How to Support the Mercury Free Partnership and the Mercury Reduction Act of 2009

The Mercury Free Partnership is looking to partner with a broad base of individuals and organizations, as no one organization or individual can tackle the daunting task of environmental/health protection alone. It has already received the support of a broad cross-section of environmental, community and science-based groups, including a majority of utilities in key coal-fired utility states. Indications of support have been shown from the EPA, the Obama administration, as well as a large number of congressional members from key regions of the U.S. The Mercury Free Partnership has the specialized and localized knowledge needed to fully inform state and national policymakers as they consider impending legislation.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and more specifically the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, oversees such legislation. In addition to contacting the Mercury Free Partnership, you can contact the office of Rick Boucher (VA-9) directly at:

Congressman Rick Boucher

2187 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

 For more information on this issue, please visit

The Mercury Free Partnership is a group of organizations, non-profits, and green businesses that are dedicated to enacting sensible and comprehensive Mercury reduction legislation in the 2009 U.S. Congressional session.   Working collectively with all stakeholders, the utility industry, medical and advocacy groups and clean coal industries we believe we can achieve our goal of removing significant amounts of Mercury from the environment while maintaining essential energy and financial areas of our economy.

Contact: Jason Sabo, Mercury Free Partnership, 877-603-2337 or

Jason Sabo

Mercury Free Partnership

Office: 310.310.2616

Fax: 310.496.1335

Mobile: 574.274.1801

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Several things worth noting about this entity and its draft legislation:

-- The Mercury Free Partnership has repeatedly refused to disclose its full membership or funders despite multiple requests;
-- MFP representatives have misrepresented support for this draft legislation by environmental groups such as NRDC in meetings with Congressional staff and on their web site, resulting in requests from multiple orgnaizations to cease and desist such suggestions;
-- To my knowledge, none of the national environmental organizations working on mercury issues -- and that brought the lawsuit against the Bush EPA's Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) -- support this draft legislation;
-- The draft legislation repeals and supersedes the Clean Air Act's section 112 Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards with respect to mercury;
-- In its place the draft legislation substitutes a 2-phase, 80% then 90% inlet mercury capture requirement (for new and existing units), an oddity considering that the same controls to achieve the latter are needed to achieve the former;
-- An EPA MACT rulemaking should require greater than 90% reductions from existing sources, even higher from new sources, with a compliance date earlier than the 2nd phase of this draft legislation;
-- Worse, this bill allows intra-source and intra-state trading of mercury emissions, something not allowed by current law;
-- The draft bill further ignores the scores of other hazardous air pollutants emitted from powers plants (such as nickel, arsenic, lead and numerous partrioculate matter-metals), which MACT under current law will regulate; while the bill does not repeal MACT for these other HAPs, it creates an inevitable legislative dynamic in which efforts will be made to repeal those obligations (see CAMR and Clear Skies).
-- In promoting this bill, MFP representatives have said that in Congressional testimony EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson indicated that EPA is "gravely concerned" about its "ability to defend the existing MACT standard." This is flatly untrue and Administrator Jackson said no such thing. Indeed, EPA is moving forward with a MACT rulemaking covering mercury and all utility HAPs -- without trading -- and has identified this effort as one of its top priorities.
-- In sum, NRDC and other environmental groups part ways from the MFP in believing that current law already offers a better, more effective way to reduce all harmful toxic pollution from power plants.

Posted by: John Walke | Sep 17, 2009 8:46:20 AM

I'm excited about the moves the administration has made to encourage businesses to use cleaner, renewable energy.

Posted by: Minnie | Sep 16, 2009 6:02:10 PM

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