Mercury Pollution

JULY 27, 2011

BY: GINA CARROLL
The Examiner

We Texans love to be number one. We like to say, "don’t mess with Texas" and "everything’s big in Texas." These sayings embody our pride in our state and our collective spirit to do things well and right and for the greatest possible impact. This winning attitude is often evident on Texas athletic fields, in Texas board rooms and with regard to our stellar reputation in philanthropy.

pollution

But we excel at some things that do not at all reflect well on us. Texas ranks number one among all states for its mercury pollution and we are first in the entire nation in mercury pollution from power plants. I recently wrote about the fact that Texas is on the "Toxic 20" List of the most polluted states. The fact that Texas ranks #13 is misleading. Being #13 on the pollution short list is terrible. And still, this ranking does not even begin to disclose the trouble we are in here in Texas.

As far as pollution is concerned, mercury is some of the nastiest and most harmful! Mercury is a highly potent neurotoxin that poses especially serious risks to pregnant women and infants. Mercury can damage brain development; cause learning disabilities; result in language disorders and memory problems; and impair vision and hearing.

Over 400,000 newborns in the United States are exposed to mercury levels that can cause this kind of damage. Since Texas’ mercury emissions account for a whopping 85% of all state mercury air pollution, it follows that Texas polluters are exacting the most damage upon infants and children. In addition, adult exposure to mercury is associated with heart disease and other cardiovascular illnesses. (Learn more about mercury HERE)

This is not the kind of record we Texans should want to maintain, nor we parents want to subject our families to. Many of us feel helpless in the face of such an enormous hurdle as cleaning up our air. But there are lots of ways to make an impact. And we must. It’s time to take our Texas can-do spirit and stand up to polluters. The first necessary act is to arm yourself with the facts—

Check out this article to learn more about the fight in Texas to stem pollution from coal-fired plants- Dispatches from the front(s): Texas’ multifaceted coal war rumbles on

Below are local Houston organizations that are working to clean up the air and make polluters take responsibility. Join them, spread the word. Taking action to make Texas a safe place for our children and our children’s children is a vital part of our job as parents!

Air Alliance Houston – This is the organization that merged with Moms For Clean Air. They still utilize mothers as activists and community liaisons.

CLEAN (Citizens League for Environmental Action) Houston- The CLEAN website offers lots of information and ways to act.

Clean Air Action– Clean Air Action and Commute Solutions Houston focus mostly on vehicle emissions and alternative fuels. Check out there calendar of events.

Commute Solutions Houston

Then when you are all informed and furious about the poor quality of your air and how it is making Texas kids sick and poorly functioning, JOIN Mom’s Clean Air Force. Send the message–DON”T MESS WITH TEXAS MOMS! Go HERE to join.

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This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. SEED Coalition is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability, human rights, economic democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a "fair use" of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use", you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

March 2011

Environmental Defense Fund

EDF identifies the top 25 emitters of mercury from the electric sector

Coal-fired power plants are the primary source of toxic mercury air emissions in the U.S. Mercury pollution contaminates our land and waters, causing serious human health impacts.

In Mercury Alert: Cleaning up Coal Plants for Healthier Lives [PDF] EDF identifies the top 25 emitters of mercury from the electric sector.

Key report findings

  • A large amount of toxic mercury pollution is released from a relatively small number of plants.
  • These 25 plants alone are responsible for nearly a third of all mercury emissions in the power sector, while providing only eight percent of our electricity.
  • Twenty of them are located within 50-100 miles of some of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, including Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, St. Louis and Austin.
  • Texas led the nation in mercury air pollution from coal-fired power in 2009.

Some states are making progress to reduce mercury emissions from the electric sector, but we need a strong national Utility Air Toxics rule to protect the health of all Americans.

Fair Use Notice
This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. SEED Coalition is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability, human rights, economic democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a "fair use" of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use", you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

December 12, 2012

By KATE GALBRAITH
New York Times

AUSTIN, TEXAS — The harm that can be caused by consuming or breathing mercury is well known and terrible. A pregnant woman, eating too much of the wrong kind of fish, risks bearing a child with neurological damage. Adults or children exposed to mercury can experience mood swings or tremors, or sometimes even respiratory failure or death.

In January, representatives of dozens of countries will gather in Geneva to discuss combating mercury emissions, which are rising in Asia even as Europe and the United States have tightened controls. The meeting is the last of five negotiating rounds — the first took place in 2010 in Stockholm — and a legally binding treaty on mercury contamination is expected to come together next year.

The signing of that treaty is set to take place in the Japanese city of Minamata, where widespread mercury poisoning occurred in the mid-20th century after discharges from a factory contaminated the seawater.

But the extent to which countries will commit to reducing mercury, and whether they will follow through on those commitments, are open questions.

Read the whole article on the New York Times website…

Fair Use Notice
This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. SEED Coalition is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability, human rights, economic democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a "fair use" of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use", you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

August 9, 2012

by: Carrie Feibel
KUHF FM News – Houston

A new report ranks all 50 states for toxic air pollutants coming from power plants. Texas comes in at number ten.

The new report is from the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.

It puts Texas in the top ten for toxic power plant emissions, behind some Big Coal states like Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The good news, however, is that power plants in the U.S. overall are releasing 19 percent less toxic chemicals than a year ago. These chemicals include mercury, arsenic and acid gases.

John Walke, an attorney with the NRDC, says there are two main reasons why:

"The first is the increasing use by power companies of natural gas which is a cheaper and less polluting fuel. The second factor is the installation of state-of-the-art pollution controls by many plants."

Walke says power companies have begun installing new technology because new EPA rules go into effect in a few years.

When you take a closer look at these pollution rankings, Texas emerges as a special case. Texas does rank #10, but it’s #1 when you look at just one pollutant, mercury. That’s because many Texas power plants burn lignite, a type of coal that is high in mercury.

Peter Altman is also with the NRDC:

"Mercury is the one that we have been the most concerned about because it has such profound impacts on our brains and our neurological systems, particularly those of children and unborn children."

The coal-burning power plant closest to Houston is NRG’s W.A. Parish plant in Fort Bend County. It ranks fourth in the state for toxic air pollutants.

But spokesman David Knox says Parish is ahead of federal deadlines when it comes to installing the best pollution controls.

"Due to the low sulfur fuel we use and the emissions controls we’ve installed, on a per megawatt basis, it is significantly cleaner than a number of other plants in the nation."

The new EPA rules for power plants don’t go into effect until 2015, but they are already under political attack and the focus of lawsuits.

The state of Texas is one of the states that has sued to stop the new rules.

Fair Use Notice
This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. SEED Coalition is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability, human rights, economic democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a "fair use" of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use", you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

January 30, 2011

By Jim Bardwell
Longview News Journal

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A Tatum power plant is the nation’s largest emitter of mercury, according to a new report, and it and another coal-fired plant in northeast Texas are among the nation’s 10 largest emitters of the toxic element.

The report from Environment Texas, a citizen-funded statewide group, found Dallas-based Luminant’s Martin Lake Steam Electric Station and Lignite Mine emits more mercury — 2,660 pounds annually — than any other plant in the nation.

Released as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to propose a standard by March to limit mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants, the report issued last week indicates Texas plants emit more mercury pollution than those in any other state.

Luminant’s Monticello Steam Electric Station and Lignite Mine near Mount Pleasant emits 1,828 pounds of mercury every year, the report indicated. That ranks it fifth in the nation.

Read the full story on the Longview News Journal’s website…

January 4, 2013

ACCORDING TO A NEW REPORT RANKING THE TEN WORST MERCURY-EMITTING COAL PLANTS IN THE US.

By SONIA SMITH
Texas Monthly

power plant
istockphoto

Five of the country’s worst mercury-emitting power plants are located in Texas, according to a new report from an environmental watchdog.

The Environmental Integrity Project determined that four Luminant plants in East Texas—Martin Lake, Big Brown, Monticello, and Sandow—rank in the top five mercury emitters in the country. Harrison County’s H.W. Pirkey Power Plant, owned by American Electric Power, rounds out the top ten. Other states with top emitters include Alabama, Missouri, Michigan, North Dakota, and Oklahoma.

"Nationwide, equipment has been installed over the years to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. That has helped cut down on the release of mercury, toxic metals and acid gases from power plants over the last ten years," Ilan Levin, an attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, wrote in a statement. "However, that progress is uneven, and the dirtiest plants continue to churn out thousands of pounds of toxins that can be hazardous to human health even in small concentrations. For example, emissions of mercury from coal-fired power plants have actually increased in the last decade in the state of Texas."

Why is this a problem? Well, mercury is a potent neurotoxin that is particularly harmful to children and developing fetuses. And "[e]missions from local power plants deposit mercury and other toxic metals in nearby rivers and streams, where these pollutants concentrate in aquatic organisms at levels that can make fish unsafe to eat," Levin said in a statement. This process is called bioaccumulation, and the Mobile Press-Register‘s Ben Raines explained the dangers of it on his paper’s website:

Read the full story on the Texas Monthly website…

Fair Use Notice
This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. SEED Coalition is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability, human rights, economic democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a "fair use" of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use", you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
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