Texas Clean Air Matters

Selected tag(s): mercury

Texans to Benefit Even More From New Toxics Rule

Today the Environmental Protection Agency announced a new Mercury and Air Toxics rule that will help clean up mercury pollution from our nation’s power plants. A new Environmental Defense Fund report shows that Texas citizens will especially benefit from this rule with seven of the nation’s top 25 mercury-emitting coal plants here in our state, and four of those among the top 10 (see map).

Seven of the Top 25 Mercury-Emitting U.S. Coal Plants in 2009 are in Texas (Four of which are in the Top 10) Source: Proprietary Analysis, EIA 860 2009, EIA 923 2009, Ventyx Velocity

Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of toxic mercury air emissions in the U.S. and Texas coal plants have lagged far behind other states in reducing emissions. Top Texas coal plant emissions in 2009 by pounds of mercury released include the following (among the nation’s top 25 emitters):

  • Martin Lake 1,566 lbs.
  • Big Brown 1,362 lbs.
  • Limestone 1,077 lbs.
  • Monticello 1,063 lbs.
  • W A Parish 845 lbs.
  • Sandow (No. 4) 809 lbs.
  • Pirkey 791 lbs.

Such figures should concern us all given the serious human health impacts. While we have yet to learn all of the implications from harmful exposures to mercury, we do know that some of these effects are most severe in infants and young children, and include brain damage, learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, and impaired vision and hearing. Read More »

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New Rule Expected to Dramatically Reduce Hazardous Power Plant Emissions

Perhaps next week we’ll all be able to breathe just a little bit easier with the much- anticipated Wednesday, March 16 announcement of a new Air Toxics Rule.

The Environmental Protection Agency will announce a rule that will, for the first time, limit hazardous emissions from our nation’s power plants. These pollutants threaten the health of every American with annual emissions of more than 386,000 tons of dangerous air pollution like mercury, acid gases, heavy metals and even radioactive materials.

Unlike criteria air pollutants – like ozone and particulate matter – there are no current national ambient air quality standards for air toxics. This means that there’s no regulation on the amount of harmful air toxics that can collect in our air, water, or wildlife. Once in the environment, many of these toxic compounds are there forever.

While we have yet to learn all of the implications from harmful exposures to air toxics, we do know that some of the most serious health effects are most severe in infants and young children and include brain damage, learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, and impaired vision and hearing. We also know that reducing exposures can reduce risk, and that reducing risk is the best and most immediate way to protect human health. Read More »

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Mercury Gives New Meaning to March Madness

Much has been written about the hazards of mercury, but with the release of a new report from Environment America, the Environmental Protection Agency’s upcoming proposed air toxics standards on mercury, and all of the recent talk about Texas power plants, we felt that the issue warranted more attention.

How Are We Exposed to Mercury?
Nearly all exposure comes from eating fish or shellfish. These days, most of us know that we should limit the consumption of certain species of fish – especially pregnant women and nursing mothers. But how does the mercury get there in the first place?

After being released into the atmosphere, mostly by coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources, mercury eventually falls back to the earth depositing into soil or bodies of water.  There it’s converted to methylmercury, which is even more toxic. Read More »

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