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Blagojevich proposes lower mercury emissions

Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

By Maria Hickey, KWMU

St. Louis, MO. – Governor Rod Blagojevich wants Illinois power plants to cut mercury emissions by 90 percent.

The governor announced his proposed rule Thursday. It would require power plants to make the reduction collectively by 2009. In three years individual plants would have to meet the new standard.

St. Louis-based Ameren operates six coal-fired power plants in Illinois

Spokeswoman Susan Gallagher says the proposed rule could make it hard to compete with power plants in other states.

Our concern, frankly, is that it's not a regional approach to this issue, so that fact places Illinois coal-fired generators at a significant disadvantage, Gallagher said.

But American Bottom Conservancy President Kathy Andria says it's time for the change.

"The research that's been done shows that it would only be a few cents per household per month, Andria said. I think most people would agree that that is a small price to pay for not poisoning our children with mercury.

The governor's proposal must go through a public comment period and get the approval of the Illinois Pollution Control Board and a joint legislative rules committee.