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Report: says 1,664 pounds of mercury emitted by Minnesota power plants in 2009

A report from Environment Minnesota says that power plants in Minnesota emitted 1,664 pounds of mercury in 2009, causing health and environmental problems.

Released today, the report comes as the federal Environmental Protection Agency plans to propose a standard to limit mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants and as some Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature are considering trying to end the 2007 moratorium on coal-fired power plants.

The report says that coal-fired plants are the largest source of mercury emissions, and says the Becker plant emits 867 pounds per year.

“Powering our homes should not poison Minnesota’s kids,” said Jessica Buchberger, field associate for Environment Minnesota, which describes itself as "a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization."

“Mercury pollution from power plants puts our kids and our environment at risk," she said, "and we need the Environmental Protection Agency to force these facilities to clean up.”

Says the group:

"The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that one in six women of childbearing age has enough mercury in her bloodstream to put her unborn child at risk for the health effects of mercury pollution, including learning disabilities, developmental disorders, and lower IQs, should she become pregnant."

State Rep. Mike Beard, a Republican from Shakopee, has introduced a bill that would end the ban on coal-fired plants. He told MPR last month:

"Why wouldn't we build a new coal plant here, and keep the tax base and employment here, and the electrical energy generation and the economic stuff that goes with it, here in Minnesota?"

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