A few years ago the state of Maryland enacted legislation to require the installation of specialized emissions control technology to capture excess mercury emissions from power plants. And according to the latest published reports it appears that the initiative has been a success. Coal-burning power plants in Maryland are now required to install new pollution controls that reduce mercury emissions by 80 percent.
But appearently that is not enough to keep the air quality in the state safe enough for all. Why?
A serious health threat still exists because neighboring states have yet to crack down on the toxic pollutant, an environmental group’s report says. The neighboring states, particularly Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are among the worst in the nation for mercury emissions, ranking second, third and fourth highest, respectively, in the country. All are within Maryland’s “airshed,” where pollutants put into the air in one state are carried by prevailing winds into neighboring states.
Robert M. Summers, acting secretary of the environment, noted in a news release that 73 percent of the mercuy air pollution measured in Maryland is coming from outside the state’s borders.
He and others called on the Environmental Protection Agency to follow through with an air-quality standard it is set to propose in March that would curb mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants. The federal standard, if proposed as drafted, would reduce mercury emission by more than 90 percent, advocates say.
The report – and a recent press conference – are meant to put public pressure on EPA to go through with the regulation in the face of pushback from industry and its supporters in Congress, where legislation to block new EPA rules is said to be in the works.