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New York State Ornithological Association, Inc.

[letter on Mercury Emissions]

October 16, 2006

Mr. David Gardner, NYSDEC
Division of Air Resources
625 Broadway, 2nd Floor
Albany, NY 12233-3254

Dear Mr. Gardner,

The New York State Ornithological Association (NYSOA) is very pleased that the DEC has a draft regulation that will regulate emissions of mercury from New York State’s coal-fired power plants.  The mercury levels in several species of fish in both the Adirondack and Catskill Parks are high enough for the NYS Department of Health to issue warnings against eating these species of fish.  The Common Loon is a New York State “Species of Special Concern”. The reason for this concern is a serious decline in the number of Common Loons breeding in NYS waters during recent decades, which may result in part from their eating fish from our state’s mercury contaminated waters.  This species could in the future be elevated to the “Endangered” category unless the mercury emissions are reduced.

NYSOA applauds the DEC for setting levels for 90% reduction of mercury emissions by 2015 which is in contrast to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Mercury Rule which only requires a 70% reduction of mercury emissions by 2018. Both agencies (DEC and EPA) allow emission ‘trading’ of credits between coal-fired electric generating units both inside and outside New York State, a practice that can lead to uneven levels of contamination of bodies of water depending on their geographic location.  The bodies of water near power plants would likely have much higher levels of contamination than bodies of water farther from the plants.

The New York State Ornithological Association strongly supports the efforts of the DEC to reduce mercury emissions.  We urge the DEC to further reduce the time line for compliance and to eliminate the trading of emission credits. The sooner the waters are free of mercury, the healthier the environment for all living plants and animals including humans, who also often consume fish from NYS waters.

Very truly yours,

Gail M. Kirch
Conservation Co-chair

cc  : John Ozard, NYSDEC
       ADK Council


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