Scientists head to D.C. with Great Lakes mercury findings

Scientists are in Washington D.C. today to present to federal lawmakers research suggesting the Great Lakes region has more problems with mercury than previously thought.

Their visit comes just weeks after the GOP-led House of Representative passed two bills that would handcuff the EPA from limiting mercury emissions.

As Echo reported, scientists reviewed research on mercury in the Great Lakes region and found despite overall decreases in the pollutant, concentrations are rising in some species and health risks are occurring at lower levels than expected.

The new report, published by the Biodiversity Research Institute in the academic journal Ecotoxicology and the journal Environmental Pollution, summarizes the findings of more than 170 scientists, researchers and resource managers.  The report is a collaboration of the Biodiversity Research Institute, the Great Lakes Commission and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

And it comes at a critical time.

The House passed the EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011 on Oct. 13. The bill canceled a plan to limit emissions of mercury and other air pollutants from more than 200,000 industrial boilers and incinerators.

And just a day later, the House passed the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act, which would block the EPA from regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste. Coal ash is a prominent source of mercury emissions.

Both bills are headed to the Democratic-controlled Senate for review. The White House opposes both bills.

The mercury report shows a direct link between decreased emissions and decreased concentrations in the environment.

“It is likely that additional national and regional air emission controls would result in further declines to mercury contamination of the Great Lakes region as well as other areas of the U.S and Canada,” Charles Driscoll said in a prepared statement. Driscoll, a professor at Syracuse University, is a co-principal investigator on the mercury study.

Driscoll and David Evers, executive director and chief scientist at the Biodiversity Research Institute, will present the findings to both House and Senate staff members.

This article was originally published by the Great Lakes Echo

(Via Midwest Energy News)