NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 4, 2005

Last month, the Bush administration issued new rules on curbing mercury emissions from coal-burning plants, with the goal of cutting emissions in half by 2020 using a "cap- and-trade" approach. However, U.S. power plants already account for less than 1 percent of the world's mercury budget.

According to the U.S. House Committee on Resources:

  • Industrial use of mercury dropped by 80 percent since 1970; mercury emissions from power plants dropped 38 percent between 1995 and 1999.
  • Since the 1970s, mercury levels in fish have either remained stable or declined, during a time when experts believed levels should have increased by up to 26 percent.
  • Peer-reviewed studies do not show a link between U.S. power plant emissions and the mercury content in fish; nor do studies support a link between regular fish consumption by pregnant women and harm to their unborn children.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency's maximum lifetime safety standard of mercury is already the most restrictive in the world.

Steven Milloy of the Cato Institute notes that the national cap-and-trade approach would be more efficient than a cap-and-trade option for each individual power plant (favored by environmental groups), but it will cost $3 billion to $5 billion annually.

Source: "Mercury in Perspective: Fact and Fiction About the Debate Over Mercury," U.S. House Committee on Resources, and Steven Milloy, "Mercury Rises Over EPA Pollution Rules," Fox News, March 15, 2005.

For Fox News text:,2933,150086,00.html


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