The Bush administration made a rigorous approach towards global warming. Its approach to mercury pollution would require coal-burning power plants to cut mercury emissions more deeply and more quickly. It would also raise home electric bills throughout the East and Midwest about a dollar a month. Though it is a praise-worthy step for the environmentalists, State and local air regulators are unhappy with the approach. Their plan would require utilities to reduce their combined 48 tons a year of mercury pollution by 80 percent by 2008, and also by 90 percent to 95 percent by 2012. Forty percent of all U.S. mercury pollution comes from coal-fired power plants. The agency said it aimed to cut mercury pollution by 70 percent by 2018.
But, states can adopt their own plans for reducing mercury pollution as long as they surpass federal standards. “The public is willing to pay the cost of a lunch at McDonald’s in order to ensure that the fish they eat is free from mercury,” said Bill Becker, executive director of the twin trade groups for the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators and the Association of Local Air Pollution Control. “We don’t need Congress’ permission. We don’t need EPA’s permission. These are tools states and localities can use,” Becker said. “Given the amount of extreme disappointment and concern with EPA’s rule, the states are telling us they’re very confident they will adopt many of these provisions.”