Alexander to Vote for Stronger Controls on Mercury Pollution

Posted on September 12, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Energy Subcommittee, said he will vote in favor of legislation today that will require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rewrite its rules for cleaning up mercury pollution emitted by coal-fired power plants. “The EPA needs to go back to the drawing board and promptly come up with effective rules that clean up mercury pollution from these power plants,” Alexander said. “The public health risks are real, especially for women, children and the elderly. The technology is now available to remove most of the mercury from these plants in a reasonable period of time. And Tennessee, especially, is a mercury hot spot, both from the mercury produced by TVA smokestacks and the mercury blown in by the wind. There is no excuse for further delay. “Because of the mercury pollution emitted by power plants and other sources, the Great Smoky Mountains have the eighth highest mercury deposition in the nation,” Alexander said. “The level of mercury deposits in the park is tracked in rainfall and snowfall occurring there. Since 2002, the Park has ranked in the top ten percent of the national Mercury Deposition Network.” Alexander said he will vote for a resolution sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Susan Collins of Maine that would reverse the EPA’s decision to exempt power plants from current law which requires maximum achievable clean up of hazardous air pollutants. In 2004, Alexander joined 20 senators in writing the EPA objecting to their proposed rules to "take prompt and effective action to clean up mercury pollution." He also is cosponsor, with Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, of legislation that has significantly stricter requirements for mercury than the administration’s Clear Skies legislation. The Senate will vote on a motion to proceed to the Collins-Leahy resolution later today. If that motion is approved, there will be a period of debate followed by a vote on the adoption of the resolution which would occur later this evening or Tuesday.