Friday, July 7, 2006

Ketchum supports efforts to limit mercury emissions

Guest opinion by Randy Hall

Randy Hall is the mayor of Ketchum. He was elected to office in November 2005, after serving on the Ketchum City Council for nine years.

Those who have followed new developments with respect to Idaho mercury pollution policies know that would-be polluters are now on very thin ice.

Thanks in large part to an 18-month grassroots effort, 33 of 35 state senators recently signed a petition asking Idaho's Department of Environmental Quality, as wel1 as Gov. Jim Risch, to "opt out" of the Environmental Protection Agency's mercury cap-and-trade program. Short of "opting in," no power plant-sourced mercury pollution can be emitted in Idaho. Meanwhile, 16 states are involved in a lawsuit against the EPA, claiming that "cap-and- trade" fails to adequately protect people and the environment.

Last week, the seven-member DEQ Board of Directors voted (unanimously) to initiate a rule-making process that will recommend that the state opt out (of the EPA's cap-and-trade program). However, Gov. Risch still needs to officially accept or reject the DEQ's recommendation, meaning the battle against mercury is not over. It also means those opposed to mercury pollution, as well as continued dependence on fossil fuels power, must stay involved.

The city of Ketchum applauds all the effort that has brought Idaho to this crossroads and supports the Department of Environmental Quality's recommendation to "opt out." Ketchum also supports Idaho's two-year coal plant moratorium, as well as the state's ongoing development of an energy plan. For anyone who would like to participate in the Ketchum City Council's discussion of mercury pollution, cap-and-trade, and Idaho's energy policy, attend the City Council meeting on July 17.

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