PNS Daily Newscast - June 2, 2020 

President Trump berates governors as 'weak' amid growing racial unrest; an interfaith group sees a link between protests and climate change.

2020Talks - June 2, 2020 

Eight states plus Washington DC have primaries today, even as cities determine how to move forward in the wake of massive protests nationwide; President Trump says he'll deploy active US troops to quell them.

Oregon Mercury Drift Causes Miff in Idaho

August 25, 2009

BOISE, Idaho - Public health watchdogs want to be sure mercury pollution in Idaho is not set in concrete. The Ash Grove Cement Company is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to exempt its Durkee plant just over the border in Eastern Oregon from new mercury pollution control requirements, because of the cost.

However, Justin Hayes, program director with the Idaho Conservation League, says it's no secret that the plant is the biggest source for mercury pollution in Idaho. He also says investing in pollution control equipment would be timely because demand for cement is rising as federal stimulus money funds billions of dollars in road construction projects.

He says the Durkee plant is a major player in the market, and in the pollution picture.

"There are 186 cement kilns, and Durkee is by far the largest emitter of mercury. By far, it's the largest emitter of mercury in the entire United States."

Besides the cost of mercury pollution control measures, the company has also pointed to the scant number of people who live near the plant as a reason why pollution control is not needed, calling their location the "middle of nowhere." Hayes says that excuse doesn't fly.

"Well, it turns out that we're downwind from the 'middle of nowhere,' here in the Treasure Valley. The mercury that's being emitted in Oregon is drifting over Southern Idaho and contaminating our fisheries."

The Durkee plant is one of only two in the nation asking for exemption from federal laws on pollution control. The EPA is collecting public opinion through September 4 on allowing the exemptions.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID