The Illinois Pollution Control Board voted unanimously today to adopt Governor Blagojevich’s proposal to cut 90% of the mercury pollution coming out of Illinois coal plants by 2009. This is a historic victory to dramatically reduce a dangerous neurotoxin that threatens the brains and nervous systems of Illinois children.
Illinois women should not have to worry that the tuna fish sandwich they have for lunch, or the fish they put on the family dinner table may cause permanent harm to their children. Most of this mercury pollution comes from coal-burning power plants that have not installed the pollution controls that can eliminate most of the threat to our children. Now they will have no choice but to clean up their act to protect our kids.
This cleanup plan will not only protect Illinois children, it also sets an example for America to follow. States can and must do better than the Bush Administration’s proposal to go slow and easy in requiring mercury pollution controls, and Illinoisans can be proud that this proposal is the strongest of any state’s response.
This ruling is a major public health victory. This mercury cleanup plan will protect future generations of Illinois children from the very serious dangers posed by mercury contamination. It is a major step forward towards the day when Illinois can hopefully lift the health warnings currently posted about the dangers of eating certain fish from every lake and river in our state.
We commend the Illinois Pollution Control Board for the time and work they put into weighing all the evidence and ruling in favor of our children. We also applaud the leadership of Governor Blagojevich, Doug Scott, and all the staff at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for their hard work in enacting this historic pollution cleanup plan.
The last step before Illinois women can know that the State is doing all it can to protect them and their children from mercury is the approval of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules of the Illinois General Assembly. We are hopeful that the members of that Committee will agree with the doctors, public health professionals, and thousands of Illinois citizens who have expressed their strong support for this important proposal.