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Mercury at Center of Coal Controversy

Wed, 06/07/2006 - 11:23am

A coalition of labor and coal industry groups in Pennsylvania is calling for support of Senate Bill 1201 and House Bill 2610, saying the legislation would reduce mercury emissions from power plants by 86 percent but would not threaten jobs. Edward Yankovich, international vice president of the United Mine Workers of America, explained that the legislation would require electric generators to invest an estimated $360 million annually in air pollution controls, covering 90 percent of the power plants in Pennsylvania. However, he said the legislation is better than a rule proposed by the Department of Environmental Protection because it would not force a switch to coal mined in other states. According to George Ellis, president of the Pennsylvania Coal Association, Pennsylvania coal has twice the mercury content of coal from other states. “If DEP’s rule is adopted, power generators may have no choice but to consider switching to out-of-state coal with a much lower mercury content to meet the regulation, and good-paying coal mining jobs will go with it.”

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