Statement Of Sen. Lamar Alexander On Mercury Letter To EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt

Posted on April 1, 2004

I have signed this letter because I believe the Environmental Protection Agency must take another try at setting safe mercury emissions levels for coal-fired power plants. The proposed rule is not enough to clean our air and protect our health. The EPA has recently warned that pregnant women and children should limit their eating of fish because too much mercury is settling in rivers and is ingested by fish. Doing what is necessary to create safe mercury levels will also help to reduce levels of smog and soot (sulfur and nitrogen oxides), which also exist at unacceptable levels in Tennessee air, especially in East Tennessee. Knoxville was recently named America's asthma capital. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has become the nation's most polluted national park. On April 15, EPA will announce which Tennessee counties are not in compliance with federal standards for ground ozone, or smog. In December EPA indicated that this could be as many as 27 counties in which more than 65 percent of Tennesseans live. Most local officials in these counties are working hard to comply with federal clean air standards. It will be impossible for many counties to do so unless there is a stronger national standard for mercury - as well as for smog and soot - that is being emitted by TVA power plants or which the wind blows in from other states.