Thursday, January 19, 2012

Minnesotans thank the EPA

By Rebecca Bischoff

Environmental reporter/writer

On a sub-zero day in day in Duluth Minnesotans gathered at the Environmental Protection Agency office near Lake Superior to thank the agency for issuing strong new mercury pollution safeguards. They presented a large thank you card signed by local Duluthians and a banner made by Girl Scout Troop 12965. In December, the EPA finalized strong public health safeguards to limit mercury and other toxic pollution from coal power plants.

Caption: Dr. Carl Richards, Director of the Duluth EPA laboratory, shakes hands with Sierra Club member John Doberstein as he accepts a thank you card signed by Duluthians in support of stronger mercury emission regulations for coal power plants. To Richards left is a banner made by Girl Scout Troop 12965.

Attendance included members of the Sierra Club, the Duluth faith community, Duluth City Council, Izaak Walter League, and University of Minnesota Duluth students.

Sierra Club member John Doberstein said the new safeguards will slash mercury emissions from coal power plants by up to 90%.

City Councilor Linda Krug said she has heard from citizens concerned about Lake Superior’s water quality. “Toxic levels of mercury in Lake Superior are not what we want for Duluth, Minnesota, or America.”

Pastor David Carlson of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church spoke of the importance of creation care and being a voice for the voiceless. “They [wildlife and future generations] can’t help it, but we can,” he said of environmental issues.

Sportsman Darrel Spencer of the Izaac Walter League said his family’s diet consists of large amount of wild game. “It sickens me that we have to limit our fish intake in [waters as pristine as] the boundary waters.”

Kate Mensing, a member of MPING, a UMD student group that focuses on issues of environmental and social justice, said her group was involved because mercury pollution “affects both wildlife and citizens.”

According to the EPA, these new standards will prevent up to 150 premature deaths in Minnesota annually and create up to $1.2 billion in health benefits each year.

Rebecca Bischoff has a degree in environmental science from Northland College, Ashland Wisc. She lives in Duluth and is interested in fitness and nutrition and all issues relating to environmental protection.

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