MPCA praises utilities for mercury reductions

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The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says mercury emissions have been cut in half since the mid-1990s, the Associated Press reports. That puts the state about three years ahead of its plan to reduce mercury emissions at coal-fired electrical plants by 90 percent -- the goal set by the Mercury Emissions Reduction Act of 2006.

The AP notes the state's two largest utilities -- Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power -- have each spent hundreds of millions of dollars to cut emissions of mercury and other pollutants.

MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine called the state's progress on mercury reduction a "remarkable achievement" and praised the state's utility companies for their cooperation in achieving the environmental milestone, according to a news release.

“While we are thrilled with these mercury reductions, there’s still plenty of work to be done,” Stine said. “Reducing pollution at the source is just the first step in eliminating mercury emissions and impairments to Minnesota’s surface waters and fisheries.”

“From our nationally recognized research on mercury removal in the 1990s to achieving above 90 percent mercury reduction at our facilities, Minnesota Power has steadily furthered environmental stewardship on its system and in Minnesota," Minnesota Power Vice President of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs Margaret Hodnik said in a statement. "The tremendous progress we’ve made so far and additional planned mercury reductions on our fleet are made possible only with the support of many stakeholders.”

Xcel Energy Regional Vice President Laura McCarten told Minnesota Public Radio, "We at Xcel Energy recognize and really appreciate the partnerships among regulators, utilities, customers, environmental advocates and other stakeholders that made possible the significant reductions in mercury in the state of Minnesota."

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