Governor Blagojevich today is announcing a strong proposal to require Illinois’ coal-fired power plants to install pollution controls to reduce the levels of toxic mercury they put into Illinois’ air and water. Blagojevich’s plan would require Illinois coal plants to reduce mercury pollution by 90% by 2009.
The proposal will not only protect the health of Illinois children, it will also set an example for America to follow in addressing a major public health problem.
Mercury from coal-fired power plants ends up in lakes, rivers, and oceans, and certain species of fish accumulate dangerous levels of the toxic metal in their muscle tissue. When people eat these fish, they are exposed to potentially harmful levels of mercury. The Illinois Department of Public Health has issued a warning about the dangers of eating large predator fish from all Illinois waters due to statewide mercury pollution.
The Bush Administration has proposed substantially weaker pollution controls that could allow Illinois coal plants to delay or even entirely avoid installing pollution controls. Governor Blagojevich and Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed suit against the Bush Administration’s proposal in April of 2005.
Mothers and women hoping to have children shouldn't have to worry that by eating fish or feeding it to their kids they could be doing permanent damage to a child's brain. The technology to protect our kids is available, affordable, and it’s time we put it on these smokestacks. Will Illinois power plants will heed Gov. Blagojevich's call to clean up their act and protect our children's health?
Obviously we're not betting on that. We expect a full attack on the proposal when the Illinois Pollution Control Board takes it up in the weeks and months ahead.