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This year's July 4th had COVID-19, ongoing protests about systemic racism, and a presidential visit to Mt. Rushmore. Plus, Trump signed an order to plan a new statue park.

New Limits on Mercury Expected to Clean North Carolina's Air

March 30, 2011

RALEIGH, N.C. - The mercury in the air North Carolinians breathe is expected to be reduced significantly by new standards announced by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The standards will require coal-fired power plants to install the maximum controls available to reduce mercury air pollution. Michael Regan, southeast energy and air policy director for the Environmental Defense Fund, explains the potential.

"That will significantly impact North Carolina, given that there are 42 states that emit mercury at a lower rate than North Carolina does."

North Carolina is home to 67 operating coal-fired power plants in 25 locations. It's estimated the new standards will take full effect three or four years from now. Regional power companies have said they are committed to installing pollution-control technology, but that it will take some time to review the nearly 1,000-page EPA document.

For every dollar spent on controlling mercury emissions, estimates cite a savings of from $5 to $13 in health benefits. Regan explains why.

"The negative impacts of mercury can be devastating: lung disease, birth defects, vulnerabilities to the nervous system. Those are just some of the side effects and symptoms."

A benefit to the economy is also expected. The EPA estimates the new rule should create 31,000 temporary jobs and 9,000 permanent jobs.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC