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Petition EPA to Begin a Multi-State Process to Reduce Mercury
Contamination of Natural Resources

	New York State has joined the six New England states in
petitioning the federal government to take stronger steps to reduce
mercury pollution in lakes and rivers by limiting mercury emissions that
originate from sources beyond the region, Department of Environmental
Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today.  

	New York, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
Rhode Island and Vermont have formally requested the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency to utilize a federal Clean Water Act provision to
convene a conference of all the states whose emissions contribute to
mercury deposition in the petitioning states. The purpose of the
conference would be to craft an agreement on how to reach mercury
reduction targets. 

This is the latest development in a series of efforts taken by New York
and the New England states to collaboratively curb mercury emissions - a
major factor in unsafe mercury levels in fish - and to prevent the
chemical from impacting their natural resources and public health.

	“In New York, more than 90 water bodies have restricted
advisories for fish consumption because of elevated levels of
mercury,” Commissioner Grannis said. “DEC has a strong record of
implementing actions that reduce in-state mercury sources, and we’re
committed to doing even more. But the fact remains that out-of-state
sources significantly impact our waterbodies, wildlife and public health
and EPA needs to act on a national level to address this critical

	Mercury is a toxic pollutant that accumulates in the
environment. 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. 
	Atmospheric deposition from up-wind coal-fired power plants is
the primary source of mercury in the region’s waters. While most of
the impacted waters are in the Adirondacks and Catskills due to
elevation, parts of the Hudson and Susquehanna Rivers and Lake Champlain
are also affected.  

	In the absence of any effective effort by EPA over the past
eight years to reduce mercury emissions, the petition begins a new and
collaborative process to coordinate multi-state efforts to reduce these
harmful pollutants. The management conference called for by the
petitioners would include all the states that are significant upwind
sources of the mercury in New York and New England waters and would
hopefully lead to the development of an agreement that will ensure
improvement and protection of the states’ water quality. 

	“In contrast to the dismal record of EPA under the current
administration, many states have taken aggressive and effective action
to reduce mercury emissions, some located upwind of New York,”
Commissioner Grannis continued. “But much more needs to be done and we
look forward to working with the other states and EPA, under a new
administration, to achieve the reductions needed to restore the health
of our waterways.”  
	The states petitioning EPA have each taken significant actions
to reduce their in-state mercury emissions, resulting in regional
reductions of mercury discharges of more than 70 percent, in some

	New York State continues to be a leader in reducing mercury
emissions and discharges. Among other initiatives, in 2006, DEC adopted
regulations that which will cut mercury emissions from coal-fired
utilities by 90 percent by 2015. In the absence of federal leadership on
the regulation of other large in-state mercury contributors, DEC is
currently examining technologies that would substantially reduce mercury
emissions from cement plants.
For  further information: Maureen Wren (518) 402-8000
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