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Daily Newscasts

NC Sportsmen: New EPA Pollution Rules are “Game Changers”

March 18, 2011

MORGANTON, N.C. - Mercury, arsenic and dioxins emitted by coal-fired power plants would have to be reduced under proposed rules unveiled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week. While the restrictions are written for public-health benefits under the Clean Air Act, a national sportsmen's group is applauding the move in a new report because of additional benefits - those to wildlife and fish.

Joe Mendelson, global-warming policy director for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), says it's taken 20 years for the rules to be written.

"It's a question of air pollution being not just what comes into our lungs every day but what impacts the environment as a whole in ways that we don't see, and how that really impacts our wildlife as well."

Congress is considering several proposals to change the Clean Air Act to prevent the EPA from updating pollution standards, as in the newly proposed rules, claiming that the act was never intended to address those pollutants and that the EPA has overstepped its authority. Mendelson says coal-fired power plants account for about 50 percent of the types of pollution covered in the EPA proposal.

Richard Mode, NWF outreach coordinator and an avid North Carolina fisherman, points to the increasingly common "mercury warnings" about limiting fish consumption as evidence that tougher controls are needed.

"It's impacting species that are great pan fish that we eat, that are a source of protein for people here in North Carolina. Species like walleye pike."

Mercury is a neurotoxin especially harmful to young children and expectant mothers. Deborah Courson Smith, reporting

The NWF report, "Game Changers: Air Pollution, a Warming Climate, and the Troubled Future for America's Hunting and Fishing Heritage," is online here.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - NC