Fish eaters, unite!

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published September 1, 2008  | September 2008 issue

The state Natural Resources Board passed a measure regarding mercury emissions that is likely to cost consumers more money, but will likely improve the food safety of fish in state lakes and rivers.

In late June, the board approved a set of revamped rules that would require coal-burning power plants—which produce 90 percent of mercury emissions—to cut those emissions by 90 percent by 2015. Existing regulations already required 70 percent reductions by that date.

The new regulations are expected to add $5 to $12 onto residential power bills, and $36 to $85 for commercial businesses, according to state Department of Natural Resources estimates. The hit will be more concentrated for large energy users, like paper producers, which the DNR estimated could see cumulative energy bills rise between $3 million and $7 million.

The new rules are expected to slowly lower mercury levels in fish caught in state waters, most of which now have standing healthy-consumption guidelines.

Utilities can stretch out the time frame on mercury reductions if they reduce other pollutants.

Ronald A. Wirtz