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Critics: D-N-R Mercury Rule Won’t Make the Cut

April 8, 2008

Madison, WI – A proposed Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources rule aims to cut mercury emissions from power plants in the state, but critics say it doesn't go far enough. The plan would require large power plants to cut mercury emissions by 90 percent by the year 2015.

Jennifer Feyerherm with the Sierra Club in Wisconsin says there are two major loopholes, however. Many smaller power plants are exempt from the rule, and larger plants can do trade-offs of other types of pollution to avoid the 90 percent target. She says Illinois and Minnesota both have strong mercury reduction rules in place, and Wisconsin should follow their lead.

"We know how to reduce mercury by 90 percent and more; we've got the technologies to do it; we're seeing them used across the country; there is no reason we shouldn't require those kinds of technologies here in Wisconsin."

Feyerherm says all Wisconsin lakes, rivers and streams have mercury warning advisories for fish, and cutting down on mercury emissions from power plants is the best way to start turning things around.

"It's not rocket science. If we stop the pollution, we cut it off at the source; it's not there to cycle through the ecosystem and build up in our bodies. We know how to remove this pollution, we need to do it to protect Wisconsin families and kids."

Mercury is a neurotoxin linked to health problems including birth defects and developmental disabilities.

The DNR is taking public comments through next Monday.

Rob Ferrett/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - WI