State Representative Melissa Hortman (Brooklyn Park/Coon Rapids) joined the Governor, fellow House and Senate legislators and members of the environmental and business community yesterday to announce an agreement to reduce mercury emissions from the largest coal-fired plants in the state by 90%.
Hortman is a co-author of the House bill that led to this agreement; the 90% reduction will reduce mercury emissions by 1,200 pounds a year, approximately one-third of the total emissions in the state.
"Mercury reduction is crucial to improving the quality of our air and water, as well as the overall health and economic growth of our state," said Hortman. "It's very gratifying to be part of the bipartisan effort that brought forward this good bill."
According to Hortman, if mercury emissions were cut by 90% in every coal-fired plant in the state, the cost to consumers would be between 55 cents and $1.55 per person, per electric bill. Since this legislation only applies to the three largest utilities, the cost should be less.
A proposal offered by Hortman in the House Mercury Reduction Bill calls for increased recycling of fluorescent light bulbs. Under this provision, utilities, lighting manufacturers and retailers would be required to inform consumers that fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury.
"Most consumers don't know that fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, or that it's against the law to throw them in the garbage," said Hortman. "By recycling fluorescent light bulbs, consumers can take 100 pounds of mercury out of Minnesota's environment every year."
It is expected that the House will consider the Mercury Emissions Reduction Act sometime next week; the Senate is also due to vote on this soon.
"This legislation will move us back toward the days when we could safely drink our water, eat the fish we catch in our lakes and breathe cleaner air," said Hortman.