|By Bob Weaver|
West Virginia ranks fourth in the nation for mercury pollution, mostly from coal-fired power plants, according to new study released by Environment America.
The report says that power plants in just four states—Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia—are responsible for over 35 percent of all mercury pollution from power plants in the United States.
Bill Howley, who maintains The Power Line blog opposing the PATH project, says "We certainly don't need additional insult to West Virginia air, water and sod with increased mercury pollution from the coal-fired electric plant at John Amos in Putnam County."
The $2 billion plus PATH project would product coal-fired electricity in West Virginia for the eastern corridor.
Howley says experts on both sides of PATH have testified about additional emission problems for the Mountain State.
The report comes 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, widely opposed by coal corporations and WV state politicians, calling the report flawed.
"Powering our homes should not poison our kids," said Shelley Vinyard of Environment America.
"Mercury pollution from power plants puts our kids and our environment at risk, and we need the Environmental Protection Agency to force these facilities to clean up."
"Mercury from power plants limits our children's potential to succeed. Power plants should reduce mercury emissions as much as is humanly possible to protect our children's health and their future," said Jerome A. Paulson, MD, environmental health expert.
West Virginia DNR has long advised state citizens about limiting the consumption of mercury-laden fish in the Mountain State.
Coal-fired power plants, which are the largest source of mercury pollution in the United States, emit mercury into the air.
The mercury then falls into waterways from rain or snow, where it builds up in fish.
Even very small amounts of mercury can have significant impacts, studies suggest that a gram-sized drop of mercury can contaminate an entire 20 acre lake.
Environment America contends that Mercury pollution is a widespread health risk.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that one in six women of childbearing age has enough mercury in her bloodstream to put their child at risk from the health effects of mercury pollution, including learning disabilities, developmental disorders, and lower IQs, should she become pregnant.
This means that more than 689,000 of the 4.1 million babies born every year could be exposed to dangerous levels of mercury pollution, says Environment America.
The American Nurses Association is calling on the EPA to issue a strong standard that will significantly reduce harmful pollutants from power plants, and specifically cut mercury pollution by more than 90%.
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