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February 22, 2004

LT.GOV. QUINN SOUNDS ALARM ON DANGEROUS MERCURY Submits testimony at U.S. EPA hearing regarding toxic mercury emissions

CHICAGO- Today Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn joined environmentalists and concerned citizens from across the Midwest to voice objections to the U.S. EPA proposed mercury emission standards. 
“The toxic mercury proposal of the U.S. EPA is woefully inadequate,” said Quinn, explaining that the proposal will allow coal-fired power plants to emit six to seven times more mercury into the environment compared to what the Clean Air Act currently requires.  “The EPA proposal completely fails to protect Illinois families from dangerous mercury exposure.” 
Quinn is scheduled to testify at the national U.S. EPA hearing following the press conference and will submit written testimony.
“The U.S. EPA proposal grossly violates the Illinois Constitution by failing to protect the fundamental right of Illinois citizens to a healthful environment,” Quinn said.
Quinn was joined by Peg Lautenschlager, Attorney General of the State of Wisconsin; Marcia Jimenez, Commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of the Environment; Walter J. Bock of the National Conservation Board; Dr. Lee Francis of Physicians for Social Responsibility; as well as public health advocates, fishermen, and parents from six Midwest states.
Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury air emissions in the country.  Highly toxic mercury pollution accumulates in fish tissue and poses the risk of neurological damage to more than 600,000 children per year who are exposed in the womb when their mothers eat fish.  Exposure can result in permanent learning disabilities and loss of motor skills. 
Contaminated fish are common in the Great Lakes and bodies of water throughout Illinois have been posted with at least one mercury consumption warning.
Quinn is a member of the Great Lakes Commission and Chairman of the Illinois River Coordinating Council.  The Council coordinates funding for river restoration in the sprawling Illinois River Watershed, which includes not only the Illinois River, but also its tributaries: Calumet, Chicago, DesPlaines, DuPage, Fox, Kankakee, La Moine, Mackinaw, Sangamon, Spoon and Vermilion Rivers.


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