Stricter Mercury Regulations Proposed

January 5, 2006

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Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is proposing increased environmental restrictions for the state's 22 coal-burning plants.

The proposal would require plants to contain 90 percent of the mercury pollution they produce.

When emitted into the atmosphere, mercury eventually ends up in the water supply, contaminating the fish we eat and causing neurological problems, especially for children and pregnant women.

Blagojevich says the proposed standards are among the highest in the nation, and he hopes other states will follow suit.

""What we're doing here today is protecting Lake Michigan, 'Our Lake.' Not just the lake of the city of Chicago, not just the lake of those of us who live in Illinois, but the lake that our whole country has come to rely on,"" he says. ""And it's critical for us to protect our natural resources, our lakes and our rivers and our streams.""

Blagojevich says coal-burning plants can purchase inexpensive technology to reduce their mercury emissions.

He says he'll submit the new regulations to the Illinois Pollution Control Board in February.

Republican candidate for governor Ron Gidwitz says if approved, the measure will give Illinois businesses one more reason to move to neighboring states.

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