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Proposed Mercury Rules for Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality is proposing a rule allowing lenient mercury emissions from coal fired power plants in Okla.

Public comments are needed on this by Jan. 16th. They should be emailed to morris.moffett@deq.state.ok.us.

A local group, the Sequoyah County Clean Air Coalition, is spearheading this. Jeff Edwards of that group has provided most of this information, and Montelle Clark of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network alerted me about this.

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality is proposing to adopt the Federal Clean Air Mercury Rule as Oklahoma’s rule for mercury emissions. The federal rule is extremely lenient on mercury emissions and many other states are adopting stricter rules. The federal rule includes cap and trade provisions which allow polluting businesses to purchase clean air credits from non polluting businesses. The federal rule allows these cap and trade provisions to cross state lines. In practicality – this means a state with no coal plants could sell credits to a state which allows cap and trade provisions to apply so that they could operate their coal plants and basically buy the right to emit large amounts of damaging mercury. Since many states are enacting rules which do not allow these cap and trade provisions to apply – the states that do allow them to apply are becoming targets for power companies that wish to build dirty pulverized coal plants.

The Air Quality Council (AQC) of the Okla Dept of Environmental Quality serves as the initial rulemaking body for the Department’s Air Quality Division (AQD) and operates under the authority of the Oklahoma Clean Air Act. The AQC holds public hearings, reviews air quality issues, and provides expertise about various air quality issues. All air quality rules and regulations must first be reviewed and approved by the AQC before being recommended to the Environmental Quality Board. Once approved by the Board, the rules proceed to the State Legislature and the Governor for final approval.

In Oklahoma – the ODEQ must hold public meetings – but this requirement can be satisfied at the advisory committee level. So – in order to comment on the proposed rule – it is imperative that comments are received by Morris Moffett by the hearing date of January 17th – and by the end of the meeting which begins at 9:00 a.m. The address of the meeting is: OG&E offices, 321 N. Harvey Avenue, Grand Room, Oklahoma City.

For more information please contact John Kennington, johnkennington@cox.net or Jeff Edwards (479) 494-6883, jedwards@abf.com, or the Sequoyah Coalition.

Further Information

Fort Smith TV Report on Sequoyah County Clean Air Coalition

Notes on this issue from the Sequoyah County Clean Air Coalition

Jan. 17  Air Quality Advisory Council Hearing Agenda

Previous Comments Sent to AQC (mostly form staff and industry)

Associated Press Writer Tue Jan 9, 2007 - Mercury levels near some coal-burning power plants are five times higher than previous government estimates6

Mercury Lawsuit By Doctors

National Wildlife Federation - Mercury Contamination

Harvard Study

Mercury Contamination and Autism Study

Mercury and Learning Disabilities - A Parent's Guide


Text of letter from Oklahoma Audubon Council to ODEQ:

Audubon Council Letter, Jan 15, 2007

The Oklahoma Audubon Council, representing the 3,000 members of local Audubon Society chapters throughout our state, is concerned with the proposal to add a new Subchapter 44 to the Oklahoma Administrative Code to incorporate by reference the federal Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR). We ask that this item be tabled to allow time for more information about stronger air quality rules to be considered.

As I am sure you are aware, there are many who feel the federal CAMR is far too lenient and violates the Clean Air Act. Many other states have adopted or plan to adopt more stringent regulation and 15 states are litigating against EPA on the matter. A number of other organizations have joined this litigation, including the American Public Health Association. the American Nurses Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. They all say that the mercury rule fails to meet the stringent standards the Clean Air Act sets for protecting public health.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is also concerned with this issue, and has proposed a plan for a 90 percent reduction in mercury emissions. She has said "I have long-argued that EPA used faulty science in order to justify an insufficient mercury rule, and these studies prove it. EPA misrepresented the mercury problem based on computer data which had not been peer-reviewed, and then put out a rule which does not account for mercury hotspots and which places children and pregnant women at risk."

We understand that more coal plants will be built, but they need to use the latest technologies that minimizes their impact on our environment and the health of Oklahoma’s citizens. As more states adopt more restrictive mercury rules, and enact rules which do not accept the cap and trade provisions of CAMR, those states with less restrictive rules will become targets for power companies that wish to build dirty coal plants, without the latest (and more expensive) equipment minimizing mercury and other emissions.

We feel it is imperative that Oklahoma adopt rules that protect us all and will keep us at the forefront of cleanest possible energy, rather than become the preferred location for dirty energy.





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Last modified: September 21, 2009




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