August 11, 2006

Bush Administration Proposal Much Weaker Than New Illinois Law

USEPA Administrator Stephen Johnson’s visit to Chicago to tout the Bush Administration’s voluntary approach to keeping mercury from junked cars out of our air and water is ironic. Just like their proposal to go slow and easy on cleaning up mercury from coal plants, they now propose to ask automakers and junkyards nicely to please keep this brain-damaging toxin out of our air and water supply. This is much too little, too late when the health of our children is at stake.

Why Johnson chose Chicago to showcase this is a mystery. Illinois is doing far better. A new law took effect in Illinois July 1st that sets firm goals for make sure we recycle the parts of cars that contain mercury, and recycling efforts began earlier this summer. Governor Blagojevich’s proposal to cut mercury from coal plants by 90% by 2009 would cut 2,906 more pounds of mercury than the Bush Administration’s plan. A single teaspoon of mercury is enough to contaminate an entire lake.

Perhaps the best thing Johnson can do about mercury while in Illinois is to take notes. We don’t need press conferences and voluntary initiatives to protect our kids’ health, we need strong action. Illinois is doing what it can, but mercury in the air crosses state lines, so we could also use help from Washington cutting mercury pollution across the country.


Anonymous said...

I can't find information, but do either of these proposals deal with cement kilns? They are (or were) some of the largest mercury generators. There's a huge one in Dixon, Illinois.

Jack Darin said...

The Governor's mercury proposal only applies to coal power plants, because that is the subject of the federa proposal. Essentially, the Bush Administration gave all states until this fall to come up with their own coal plant mercury rules, or accept very weak rules that they propose. Blagojevich's proposal is in response to this call.

Coal plants are by far the largest source of mercury, but not the only one. Cement kilns are also a problem. Hopefully victory on coal plant mercury will build momentum for regulating other sources.

Here is one source of information about cement kiln pollution:


Anonymous said...

Thanks, good site! Dixon-Marquette Cement (which is now St. Mary's) used to burn coal, I don't know if they still do!