Governor’s Mercury Directive Lacks Sound Scientific Basis

Proposed reductions in mercury emissions would not benefit public health or environment

For Immediate Release

Diane S. Katz, director of science, environment and technology policy
Phone: 313-378-6986 or 989-631-0900

MIDLAND — A new report released today by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy concludes that state-mandated reductions in mercury emissions would impose significant costs on Michigan’s economy without benefiting public health or the environment. The report, "Assessing Stricter Mercury Controls in Michigan," examines the sources of mercury in the state, the scientific facts about the risks of mercury exposure and the likely impact of mandated reductions on future mercury levels in the state.

The analysis was undertaken after Gov. Jennifer Granholm directed the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to draft a rule forcing coal-fired power plants to reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent — considerably more stringent than new federal government requirements.

"Only about 2 percent of the 4 tons of mercury deposited annually in Michigan is the result of emissions from in-state utilities," said Diane S. Katz, the Mackinac Center’s director of science, environment and technology policy. "The reduction target of 90 percent is arbitrary; it is not based on the risk of exposure, the availability of emission control technology or the cost-effectiveness of emissions reductions."

Katz co-authored the report with Jon M. Heuss, principal scientist for Air Improvement Resource Inc., an environmental consulting firm in Novi, Mich. The report also finds that Gov. Granholm’s mercury directive will prove to be significantly more costly than the federal program and provide no additional benefits.

Katz added: "The state would do better to postpone mercury control requirements that exceed the federal standards and cooperate with neighboring states and the Environmental Protection Agency to better define the risks associated with mercury exposures. We need to improve our understanding of the interplay between mercury emissions, depositions and bioaccumulation."

The report is available at The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonprofit research and education institute headquartered in Midland, Mich.