Mercury Emissions in Minnesota Cut in Half Since 1990's

By KBJR News 1

Credit: MPCA

Mercury Emissions in Minnesota Cut in Half Since 1990's

February 18, 2013 Updated Feb 18, 2013 at 12:31 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- For a little over a decade now, Minnesota power utilities have been working to reduce mercury emissions across the state. Now the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is proud to announce that mercury emissions have been cut in half since the mid-1990's.

The MPCA recently sent letters to representatives of the state’s power utility sector and to a variety of other public and private entities, thanking them for their help in achieving a significant environmental milestone.

“Mercury emissions from this sector are now at less than half of where we started a little over a decade ago,” says MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine. “And our power utilities are well ahead of their scheduled reductions laid out in the Minnesota Mercury Reductions Act of 2006."

Back in the mid 1990's, Minnesota’s coal-fired utility mercury emissions were about 1,850 pounds per year. Today they are down to about 870 pounds, and headed for less than 200 pounds by 2016.

However, according to the MPCA, this only accounts for about 10% of the mercury that falls into Minnesota lakes and streams and makes our fish unsafe to eat.

90% of the atmospheric mercury comes from outside of the state and is not within our control to regulate.

However, Minnesota is still leading the nation in reducing mercury emissions.

Mercury is problematic because it is released into the air from sources around the world and then falls onto land and surface waters, including Minnesota's. Mercury is a neurotoxin that converts to methylmercury in water, which accumulates in fish, resulting in fish consumption advisories in Minnesota.

Power utilities are the largest source of mercury emissions in Minnesota and most other states, and burning coal is the largest source in that sector. While the utility sector is leading the way, other source categories, such as the mining and mercury-in-products sectors, have further to go.

“While we are thrilled with these mercury reductions, there’s still plenty of work to be done,” Stine said. “Reducing pollution at the source is just the first step in eliminating mercury emissions and impairments to Minnesota’s surface waters and fisheries."

Posted to the web by Krista Burns