June 13-20, 2005

Alberta rule would cut mercury from coal-fired plants in half by 2010

An Alberta regulation slated to come into effect this fall is expected to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by up to 50% by 2010. The regulation provides for a staged approach to reducing these emissions, in order to give power plants time to evaluate enhanced mercury capture technologies that are both effective and economic.

"In partnership with the electricity industry and stakeholders, we have developed some of the toughest environmental standards in North America," said Alberta Environment Minister Guy Boutilier, adding, "We'll continue to move ahead together, on implementation of these measures to reduce mercury emissions."

Alberta's seven coal-fired power plants emit approximately 1,200 kg of mercury a year, which is about 90% of the province's total annual mercury emissions. Using current technology, the average coal-fired facility in Alberta captures about 20% of the mercury in the coal it burns. Under the new regulation:

*Coal-fired plants will have to submit proposals by March 31, 2007 on how they will capture at least 70% of the mercury in the coal they burn.

*These proposals must be circulated for stakeholder input prior to being submitted to the Environment Department.

*Plants will be required to install mercury emission reduction technology by December 31, 2010.

*Mercury emission limits and monitoring will be in place at all plants by December 31, 2011.

*By December 31, 2012, plants will be required to submit proposals for capturing 80% of their mercury emissions.

*Continuous improvement in mercury emission control will be supported through five-year reviews at all Alberta coal-fired plants, beginning in 2008.

The provincial government is inviting comment on this regulatory approach, with submissions due by August 15, 2005. More information is available on the Air section of Alberta Environment's Web site, www.gov.ab.ca/env.

Alberta's new mercury requirements are derived from recommendations made in 2004 by the Clean Air Strategic Alliance, a non-profit, consensus-based association of senior representatives of government, industry and non-government organizations. The Alberta government subsequently accepted these recommendations in their entirety. The new standards are consistent with the province's position on a Canada-wide standard for mercury.

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