Kentucky wants mercury reduction

Kentucky officials are starting to work on regulations that would reduce the amount of mercury put into the air by coal-fired power plants.

John Lyons, director of the state Division for Air Quality, said 10 to 20 states already regulate mercury. Kentucky, he said, would be the first in the Southeast to do so.

Federal regulations proposed by the Bush administration's Environmental Protection Agency have been thrown out by the courts, and developing new ones could take a long time, Lyons said. Kentucky, which had planned to follow the federal lead, has to act on its own, he said.

"We obviously have public health concerns, with the fish advisories and all," Lyons told the Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission late Tuesday.

A statewide advisory issued in 2000 warns people, especially women of child-bearing age and children, to limit consumption of fish caught in Kentucky waters. That's because mercury put into the air from power plants and other sources ends up in rivers and lakes and accumulates in the tissue of fish. Mercury, a powerful neurotoxin, is especially harmful to children and fetuses.

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