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GLIN==> New York Enacts New Regulation to Reduce Mercury from Coal Fired Power Plants

For Release: IMMEDIATE						       Contact: Lori O?Connell
Monday, December 18, 2006						           (518) 402-8000

State Environmental Board Approves New Regulation to Improve Air Quality by Reducing Mercury
New Regulation Will Reduce Mercury from Coal Fired Power Plants 

At a public meeting held today, the New York State Environmental Board approved new regulations that will significantly reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. 

?DEC has partnered with stakeholders from industry, environmental groups, and other statewide organizations to achieve this important new regulation for New York State and for the quality of the environment as a whole,? Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan said.  ?This new mercury regulation demonstrates New York's leading role under Governor George Pataki in improving air quality and it will have significant environmental benefits for communities throughout the State.?

In May 2006, Governor Pataki announced that New York State will be reducing harmful mercury emissions from coal-fired utility power plants by approximately 50 percent from current levels by 2010 and 90 percent by 2015.  Draft regulations were announced in September and included a public comment period and three public hearings. The regulations enacted today will implement these reductions to decrease the amount of harmful mercury that is entering our environment from these sources. 

The mercury regulation will be enacted in two phases. The first phase requires an approximately 50 percent decrease in power plant mercury emissions from current levels by January 1, 2010. Under this regulation, the State will establish a statewide mercury cap of 786 pounds. Facilities will have to reduce mercury emissions and will not be able to trade with other power plant facilities in New York or other states. The second phase, which will be effective by January 1, 2015, will implement a unit-based limit for each power plant facility. In conjunction with the first phase reductions, this will result in an estimated 90 percent decrease in mercury emissions, from current levels, with the overall levels being reduced to approximately 150 pounds per year or less. This phase will require a level of emissions reductions consistent with those that will be achieved by applying a Maximum Available Control Technologies (MACT) requirement under the Federal Clean Air Act.

Mercury is a toxic pollutant that accumulates in the environment. This chemical becomes an air pollutant through processes that use coal to generate electric power. Mercury also can combine with other elements to form both inorganic and organic compounds, and exposure to these or high levels of metallic mercury can damage the nervous system and kidneys. Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable, and if women of child-bearing age are exposed to unsafe levels of the pollutant, their children may suffer brain damage or behavioral and developmental problems.
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