Monday, March 14, 2005

Mercury Rising

The Bush adminstration is releasing new regulations that would allow the trading of mercury emissions credits. The idea of trading emissions credits is to let the marketplace find the most efficient way to reduce pollution.
This can make sense for emissions like sulfer dioxide that affect large regions. Reductions in SO2 emmissions in the Midwest are linked to reduced acid rain on the east coast.
But mercury is a heavy metal that doesn't travel as far as lighter gases and is more likely to settle and accumulate close to its emission source.
If a power plant operator finds it less expensive to purchase mercury emissions credits than cut its emissions, those who have the misfortune to live near that power plant may not see any reduction at all in releases of this toxic metal.
According to DNREC's Toxic Release Inventory, 1,523 pounds of mercury and mercury compounds were released into Delaware's air in 2002.
The largest source of mercury pollution in Delaware was Conectiv Power's EdgeMoor/Hay Roads power plants, which released 148 pounds of mercury compounds into the air in 2002.
Residents of Northeast Wilmington won't see much benefit if a more modern power plant in the Midwest reduces its mercury emissions. This is likely to happen in urban neighborhoods across the country under these regulations.

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