Thursday, November 02, 2006

Illinois move forward with plan to curb toxic mercury

Illinois agency OKs plan to cut power plant mercury emissions

[from -- Platts Commodity News, Nov. 2, 2006]

The Illinois Pollution Control Board Thursday approved a proposal that would require electric utilities in the state to cut their mercury emissions by at least 90% by June 30, 2009...

Ameren, Illinois' second-largest utility, and Dynegy, one of the state's largest merchant generators, have agreed to install mercury control equipment on 96% of their generating capacity by 2009, allowing them to meet the targeted reductions, Blagojevich's office said. The remaining 4% of the two companies' capacity will meet the standards by 2012.

The governor's office and environmentalists hailed the rule as tougher than that imposed by the Bush administration earlier this year and said the rule would ultimately provide the steepest mercury cuts from coal-fired generation in the nation.

The first-ever national mercury regulation from the US Environmental Protection Agency provides for an allowance program where power plants can trade emissions credits as they eventually trim their mercury output from 48 tons a year to 15 tons, a reduction of nearly 70%.

"This is a real positive step forward," said Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, of the Illinois rule's latest approval. "It is particularly significant because it comes from a real coal state. It undercuts the principal argument of the Bush administration, which claimed it wasn't possible to clean up mercury on a quicker timetable than its mercury plan."

[Note: the "nearly 70%" reduction in the Bush plan would not take place until around 2025]

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