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E-M:/ Bonior Calls for Mercury Controls

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Date: Fri, 24 May 2002 12:27:30 -0400
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May 24, 2002
Contact:(586) 469-3232
         U.S. Rep. David Bonior is calling on the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency to more aggressively regulate mercury emissions from power
plants and scrap a Bush Administration proposal that weakens existing
provisions in the Clean Air Act.

         In a letter to EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, Bonior and
other lawmakers called for more stringent controls to guarantee that toxic
emissions from power plants are reduced.

         Michigan has had a statewide fish consumption advisory in place
since 1988 because of high levels of mercury, especially in fish at the top
of the food chain such as salmon, lake trout and walleye.

         "Mercury pollution is a threat to the health of our families,"
Bonior said. "It is polluting our air, contaminating our neighborhoods and
putting our public health at risk.  We need standards that significantly
strengthen, not weaken, the Clean Air Act.  It's basic. People should be
able to breathe without getting sick and eat the fish they catch."

         Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that affects the brain, central
nervous system and lungs. It can lead to cerebral palsy, mental retardation,
and delayed walking and speech.  In Detroit, mercury levels have been found
at 65 times higher than what is considered safe.  In South Haven, levels
were 61 times higher.

         Bonior also co-sponsors the Omnibus Mercury Emissions Reduction Act
of 2001 in Congress which cracked down on mercury emissions nationwide.  The
Bush Administration in February issued a proposal that set reductions well
below those already in place.

         Mercury pollution comes mainly from coal-burning power plants,
incinerators, automobiles and hospitals.  Populations most at-risk are
pregnant women, children, low-income anglers and sports fishers. The
congressman said he is also concerned about the impact mercury pollution is
having on tourism.  A recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Survey found that 41,000
sportfishing enthusiasts fished less in the Great Lakes region due to
mercury pollution.

         Bonior said clean, "green power programs" already being used by
Detroit Edison, Consumers Energy and Lansing Board of Water and Light should
be expanded.  He urged the EPA to support a multi-pollutant control approach
as the next step to build on such successes.

         "We have let this toxic problem go unchecked for too long," Bonior
said. "Progressive ideas are being developed and used.  It can be done and
we need to continue to push those boundaries."

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