Massachusetts Unveils Nation’s Most Stringent Mercury-Emissions Rules

Today Massachusetts announced the nation’s most restrictive regs on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, putting the state way ahead of the Bush administration in addressing the problem. The rules will require four big power plants to install equipment to reduce their mercury emissions 85 percent by 2008 and 95 percent by 2012. Activists have been pushing the rules for years and hailed them as a victory, though they wish the implementation date were sooner. “It’s really a very strong step forward,” said Cindy Luppi of Clean Water Action. Activists expressed particular pleasure over removal of a provision that would have allowed plants to delay reductions if they recycled other sources of mercury such as thermometers. Still, power plants emit only a fifth of the state’s mercury pollution, while half of it comes from incinerators, which burn thermostats, car switches, and other sources of mercury.