Earlier this month, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) announced he would mandate reductions in mercury emissions from the state's 22 coal-fired power plants by 90 percent by June 30, 2009, joining Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina and Wisconsin, in calling for mercury reductions stricter than those called for by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its March 10, 2005 Clean Air Mercury Rule. The EPA Rule calls for reductions of 47 percent by 2010 and 79 percent by 2018. Power plants emit approximately 43 percent of mercury emissions in the United States, making power plants the leading man-made source of mercury emissions.
Lauded by environmentalists, Governor Blagojevich's proposal is the most aggressive in the nation: mercury emissions must be reduced by an average of 90 percent by June 30, 2009, and each coal-fired plant is required to reduce emissions by 75 percent by 2009 and by 90 percent by the end of 2012. Under the Governor's plan, practices that permit plants to get around emissions controls, such as purchasing allowances or trading emissions credits with other companies or states, are prohibited. The proposal will go before the Illinois Pollution Control Board in February, and if adopted, could become a model for other major coal-producing states considering mercury emissions reductions. [See Maryland Governor Proposes Plan to Reduce Plant Emissions]