Recently, President Obama has been firm in enacting legislation to reduce mercury emissions in coal fired power plants. Tougher laws, and better and more advanced technologies have allowed previously outdated coal plants to be retrofitted to meet new requirements in the emissions standards. More specifically, though, the Obama administration has asked older power plants to reduce their mercury emissions by 90% over a time frame of 5 years which began last year. While this move hopes to inject new jobs and cash into the economy, there are some doubts over whether or not that will truly happen. The reliability of the coal-fired plants is also in question with the plants asking for more time to comply with the regulations. After a similar plan was thrown out during the Bush administration which was primarily voluntary, the White House is making it a requirement.
The EPA estimates that about 50% of mercury deposits are from local sources while another 40% comes from external sources, namely Asia. Coal Plants are majorly responsible for these numbers and these raised mercury levels contribute to food poisoning as well as fish and wildlife contamination.
I believe these are very important first steps to take in reducing dangerous coal and carbon emissions into the atmosphere and help prevent our very sensitive environment from being damaged. Hopefully, though, our reliance on coal will slowly be lessened while renewable energies with firmly take a hold in the industry.