The battle over whether coal-fired power plants are dumping too many toxins into the environment is flaring up again in Washington, putting Indiana and other coal-heavy states at the center of a debate over smokestack mercury emissions.
On Wednesday, a national environmental group released a report detailing just how much mercury is released into the Great Lakes region — and the harms the heavy metal causes wildlife and people.
The Natural Resources Defense Council says Indiana is one of the region’s worst polluters. Its report highlights what the authors say is a need for Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania — states that don’t have mercury-reduction plans — to come up with stricter standards under new federal guidelines. The rules introduced last year would prompt many utility companies to put scrubbers on smokestacks or close older, dirtier power plants outright by 2016.
Meanwhile, a group of Republican senators led by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., wants to roll back the new air-quality standards, saying the regulatory costs will kill jobs and cause ratepayers’ power bills to climb. The Senate might vote on the matter within a month.
The pending vote in the Senate comes as industry groups call for relaxed standards.