SPRINGFIELD --- Governor Rod Blagojevich called on President George W. Bush today to reconsider a U.S. EPA proposal on mercury from coal-fired power plants that will have a negative impact on the environment, public health and Illinois’ coal industry.
The Governor believes the proposed mercury standards clearly give an unfair advantage to coal mined in western states, putting coal mined in Illinois and other Midwestern and eastern states at a competitive disadvantage. In a letter submitted to President Bush today, Governor Blagojevich highlighted Illinois’ concerns with rules proposed by the U.S. EPA on December 15, 2003.
“My administration is very committed to reducing mercury in the environment and we are also aggressively encouraging clean-coal technology that will allow our abundant coal reserves to be used in an environmentally-responsible manner,” Gov. Blagojevich wrote the President. “The rule proposed by U.S. EPA will set back both these efforts.”
The Governor noted that EPA’s proposal imposes less stringent mercury reduction requirements on coal mined in western states creating an uneven playing field for Illinois coal. The proposal could reduce demand for Illinois coal and encourage the use of western coal that which may lead to increased mercury emissions. Western coal typically contains a type of mercury that is harder to remove from smokestacks than mercury found in Illinois coal.
The Governor urged President Bush and U.S. EPA to “recognize the importance of adopting standards that encourage the use of state-of-the-art control equipment to achieve reductions of mercury in the environment without unfairly pitting regions against each other.”
“As we celebrate another Earth Day today, we need federal policies that will provide for continued environmental progress for all parts of the nation,” the Governor said.
The Governor also expressed his concern that U.S. EPA’s proposal could endanger public health by leading to mercury hotspots near coal-fired power plants that do not reduce their emissions.
“I am sure you agree that mercury reductions must protect public health and should be a national responsibility that does not rest on the backs of Illinois and other Midwestern coal miners,” the Governor’s letter concluded.
The Illinois EPA, on behalf of Governor Blagojevich, also submitted formal written comments today to U.S. EPA expressing in detail the state’s concerns with the proposed mercury rule.
Governor Blagojevich will send copies of his letter to the Governors of several other states that produce or use bituminous coal and will urge them to join him in forming a coalition to lobby for a more fair and effective approach to reducing mercury from power plants.
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Renee Cipriano earlier testified at a U.S. EPA hearing in Chicago on behalf of the Governor about the inadequacies and unfairness of the proposed rule on mercury emissions from power plants. More detailed written testimony will be submitted this month. In addition, Cipriano and Bill Hoback, Bureau Chief of the Office of Coal Development in the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, also represented the Governor in a meeting hosted by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (Il.) on the issue last month that included representatives of both labor and management in the Illinois coal industry.
Gov. Blagojevich commended U.S. Senator Durbin for working to assemble a coalition in Congress on this issue.
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
JRTC, 100 WEST RANDOLPH, SUITE 16
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 60601
April 22, 2004
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20460
Dear President Bush:
I write to you in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to re-evaluate its proposal to control mercury from coal-fired power plants. Illinois is very concerned that the current proposal will not achieve the reductions needed to protect the health of our citizens, and will also unfairly harm our struggling coal industry and the hard-working miners it employs in our state. I urge you to direct EPA to really consider both of these issues in its re-evaluation effort.
My administration is very committed to reducing mercury in the environment, and we are also aggressively encouraging clean-coal technology that will allow our abundant coal reserves to be used in an environmentally responsible manner. The rule proposed by the U.S. EPA will set back both of these efforts.
EPA’s proposal creates an uneven playing field that unfairly advantages western coal. The proposal establishes a more lenient mercury standard for sub-bituminous coal and lignite than for bituminous coal mined in Illinois and other Midwestern states. This differential treatment is unfair and is not consistent with the fuel-neutral approach taken by EPA in developing the acid rain program under the Clean Air Act. In addition, EPA’s proposal under section 111 (d) of the Clean Air Act could result in mercury hotspots, especially since the proposed reduction levels are not sufficiently strict.
Mr. President, I urge you to ask the U.S. EPA to recognize the importance of adopting standards that encourage the use of state-of-the-art control equipment to achieve reductions of mercury in the environment without unfairly pitting regions against each other. I am sure you agree that mercury reductions must protect public health and should be a national responsibility that does not rest on the backs of Illinois and other Midwestern coal miners.