The state Natural Resources Board has approved a mercury reduction rule, with the goal of reducing the amount of mercury released to the environment by 90 percent. The rule targets mercury emissions from coal fired power plants. Mercury, a toxic byproduct of burning coal, is released from smokestacks and falls into surface waters where it enters the food chain and concentrates in fish and other wildlife. "This rule is a major step forward in improving Wisconsin's air quality," said DNR Secretary Matt Frank. "It will dramatically reduce mercury deposition into Wisconsin's lakes, benefiting our fish and wildlife and human health."
Frank added that the rule will also significantly reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, lowering ozone and particulate matter levels leading to major improvements in air quality beyond those already achieved.Following Natural Resources Board approval, the rule moves to the Wisconsin legislature. Lawmakers may approved it, or environmental committee chairs may call for additional public hearings or request further changes to the rule requirements.