Great Lakes Environmental Directory Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes grants exotic species water pollution water export drilling environment Great Lakes pollution Superior Michigan Huron Erie Ontario ecology Great Lakes issues wetlands Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes watershed water quality exotic species Great Lakes grants water pollution water export oil gas drilling environment environmental Great Lakes pollution Lake Superior Lake Michigan Lake Huron Lake Erie Lake Ontario Great Lakes ecology Great Lakes issues Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Resources Great Lakes activist Great Lakes environmental organizations Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat air pollution alien species threatened rare endangered species ecological Great Lakes information Success Stories Great Lakes Directory Home/News Great Lakes Calendar Great Lakes jobs/volunteering Search Great Lakes Organizations Take Action! Contact Us Resources/Links Great Lakes Issues Great Lakes News Article About Us Networking Services

Great Lakes Article:


Twinsburg firm hopes for tough mercury emission rules
By Sabrina Eaton
Plains Dealer
12/16/03


Washington- Mercury that spews into the air from Ohio power plants could translate into gold for Sid Nelson Jr.'s Twinsburg-based Sorbent Technologies, which has developed a way to filter the toxic metal out of smokestack emissions.

But the future of Nelson's company depends on the outcome of a politically charged debate over how and when coal-burning plants will have to reduce emissions of mercury, which harms human brains. Airborne mercury that gets into waterways has led to warnings against eating mercury-laden tuna and any fish caught in Ohio waters.


Today could be the make-or-break day for Nelson's dreams of selling $100 million worth of Sorbent's mercury-absorbing powder to utilities each year. That's when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will formally release its long-awaited proposal to reduce power plant emissions of mercury.

"This is absolutely critical for us," said Nelson, who is perturbed by reports that the EPA will postpone its deepest mercury cuts until 2018, a decade later than expected. He said mercury research and reductions would be devastated by a later deadline.

"It will stop everything for about a generation," he predicted. "By the time they get around to this problem again, I'll be retired, everyone at EPA and the Energy Department who worked on it will be retired, and in the meantime, we will have knocked a couple of IQ points off the U.S. population."

The Bush administration has indicated that it favors a mercury reduction approach that has been sanctioned by utilities. It wants to set a nationwide cap on mercury emissions and let plants that make big cuts sell credits to those that don't. EPA spokeswoman Cynthia Bergman said the approach worked well to reduce acid rain and is allowable under both the Clean Air Act and the terms of a lawsuit settlement the EPA reached during President Clinton's last days.

She said the EPA's plan, which mirrors Bush's Clear Skies legislative proposal, would cut airborne mercury from power plants to 15 tons nationwide by 2018, a 70 percent reduction. Initial cuts would be from 48 tons to 34 tons in 2010.

The EPA will finalize the plan next year. Bergman said it would establish the first-ever federal limits on mercury emissions. Though the EPA will propose a second mercury reduction plan today that is more in line with environmentalists' wishes, Bergman said her agency strongly backs a "cap and trade" program.

"We believe it will give us the fastest, steepest reductions," said Bergman. "It will give utilities incentives to reduce emissions early and take advantage of developing technologies."

Environmental groups say the Clean Air Act and the previous legal settlement demand a different approach. They favor reducing mercury emissions to 5 tons a year by 2008, with uniform cuts at every plant. They say the trading program would lead to mercury "hot spots" around power plants that buy credits instead of reducing their output and predict particularly severe problems in Ohio because its power plants are second only to Texas in mercury emissions.

To show that areas around power plants bear the harmful brunt of mercury emissions, they point to a recent Florida study that showed mercury levels decreased by 60 to 70 percent in Everglades wildlife in the two decades since South Florida made local incinerators reduce mercury emissions. They also cite research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that traced most mercury pollution in the Great Lakes to coal burning in nearby states.

"The rules that EPA is proposing are too weak," said Zoe Lipman of the National Wildlife Federation. "Allowing utilities to trade with folks elsewhere will result in more mercury falling locally, especially in states like Ohio with lots of old, dirty power plants."

Akron-based FirstEnergy supports the cap and trade program and hopes that any rules that are finalized will "allow for flexibility on how we meet the regulations and give us enough time to do so," said spokesman Ralph DiNicola. He said FirstEnergy owns an 18 percent interest in New Hampshire-based Powerspan, a company developing mercury emissions control technology that will be tested next month at FirstEnergy's R.E. Burger Plant in southern Ohio.

This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for
purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Great Lakes environmental information

Return to Great Lakes Directory Home/ Site Map