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More than 12-hundred missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: a pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; plus concerns that proposed Green-Card rules favor the wealthy.

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Montana Ahead of the Game in Court Ruling on Mercury

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling over new rules regulating mercury pollution at coal-fired power plants is unlikely to change Montana operations, as Big Sky power plants have already complied with EPA rules. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling over new rules regulating mercury pollution at coal-fired power plants is unlikely to change Montana operations, as Big Sky power plants have already complied with EPA rules. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
June 30, 2015

HELENA, Mont. – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday the costs of implementing smokestack technology to control mercury pollution should have been considered by the EPA before the agency proceeded to draft its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

While the ruling means the agency has to rewrite some components of the air pollution regulations, the new rules for power plants will remain in effect while a lower court reviews the case.

Anne Hedges, director of the Montana Environmental Information Center, says it won't mean much to the state because newer controls were put in place in 2010.

"It's hard to imagine that if EPA goes back and determines whether it's economic to install mercury controls on power plants, they wouldn't look at places like Montana and say, 'They did it five years ago. Of course it's economic,'" she says.

Besides mercury, the rule intends to curtail emissions of arsenic, chromium and hydrochloric acid gas.

Hedges says for plants where the new technology has not been installed yet, the court's ruling could delay implementation – and that puts people at risk. Mercury is a neurotoxin connected to heart and asthma problems.

"People all over the country are breathing air from power plants next door, and they deserve cleaner air," she says.

The EPA estimates the pollution controls will prevent about 11,000 premature deaths every year.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT