Group says power plants could cut mercury by 90 percent for cheap

Electric utilities could use commercially available technologies to reduce their mercury emissions by 90 percent and it would cost consumers the equivalent of a cup of coffee per household per month, according to a new National Wildlife Federation study. The group looked at power plants in five states that rely heavily on coal to produce electricity — Illinois, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — and concluded that substantial emissions cuts, even assuming all the costs were passed along, would cost households from $0.69 to $2.14 a month in increased energy bills. An industry trade group responded that NWF had underestimated costs and overestimated the effectiveness of the technologies. Last year, the Bush administration backed away from a plan to force mercury reductions of 90 percent by 2008, proposing instead a 70 percent reduction over more than a decade.