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Power Plants Must Cut Mercury Emissions, Says Board

Last updated on Thursday, October 4, 2007

(UNDATED) - A state board has ordered Indiana power plants to cut mercury emissions by two-thirds, amid criticism that the state should have gone further.

The 66-percent cut in mercury pollution by 2018 mirrors a new federal standard. 21 states have gone further, ordering reductions of 80-to-90-percent.

The environmental group Improving Kids' Environment proposed 75-percent cuts in emissions, with power plants required to reach those levels in eight years instead of 11.

Executive Director Janet McCabe accused the Indiana Department of Environmental Management of torpedoing any chance at compromise by starting at the minimum allowable figure, leaving utilities no incentive to give ground.

The board voted 9-3 to reject the accelerated timetable. But members on both sides of the vote scolded IDEM for not doing more to try to reach a consensus.

Utility representatives argue it would be too expensive to achieve deeper cuts, and that the benefits would be minimal. They maintain Indiana power plants account for a tiny fraction of the mercury that makes its way to Indiana waterways, and that cuts might not dent that enough to make a significant difference in Hoosiers' health.

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