COMMENDED FOR EFFORTS TO COMBAT MERCURY
National Group Rates
New Jersey Highest Among Mid-Atlantic States
(05/09) TRENTON -- In its 2005 Mid-Atlantic Mercury Report
Card released this month, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF)
recognized New Jersey's achievements in regulating mercury contamination,
awarding it the highest grades in four of seven categories among
the Mid-Atlantic states and noting that "New Jersey stands
out as the leader in addressing emissions of mercury."
"Protecting public health from toxic mercury emissions has
been a high priority for New Jersey and we will continue to lead
the nation in this effort," said Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley Campbell. "We are pleased
that the NWF has recognized our efforts to protect the public
and our wildlife from the dangers of mercury. We hope this recognition
will prompt the legislature to complete work on the bill by Senator
Steve Sweeney and Assemblyman John Burzichelli to remove mercury
switches from the waste stream."
This is the first year NWF has released a mercury report card
in the Mid-Atlantic region, but a partnership with the New England
Zero-Mercury Campaign that produced similar reports for the New
England region proved to be an effective method of promoting further
action from the states.
New Jersey received top marks, an A, for its efforts in reducing
state mercury air emissions within the state by the maximum extent
possible. DEP passed stringent new regulations for controlling
mercury emissions from power plants in November 2004. These regulations
are the most comprehensive mercury standards in the nation, reducing
mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, iron and steel
melters, and solid waste incinerators by up to 90 percent by the
end of 2007.
New Jersey also received an A for advocating strong federal policies
on mercury. Commissioner Campbell has repeatedly challenged the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed mercury
standards as inadequate, while seven of the state's 13 U.S. representatives
and both senators have signed letters encouraging strict federal
regulations for mercury emissions from power plants.
New Jersey also received the highest grades in the Mid-Atlantic
region for reducing mercury exposure through public education
and outreach, as well as improving understanding of mercury sources,
impacts, and cycling. New Jersey is the only state in the region
that has passed legislation requiring the state to provide information
regarding mercury-contaminated fish to high-risk populations and
to post such information in public places. DEP has also initiated
a Mercury Task Force to research the sources of mercury and its
impacts on the environment and to develop a mercury pollution
reduction plan for the state.
Mercury is a neurotoxin that, in humans, harms the development
and function of the central nervous, cardiovascular, and reproductive
systems. In wildlife, increased levels of mercury contamination
can decrease ability to reproduce, impair growth and development,
and cause abnormal behavior and death.
For the full analysis of the Mid-Atlantic states' progress in
addressing mercury pollution and exposure, including all grades
for all states, see "Mercury in the Mid-Atlantic: Are States
Meeting the Challenge?" online at www.nwf.org/news.
For more information on DEP's mercury regulation initiatives
and research, visit the DEP website at http://www.state.nj.us/dep/dsr/mercury/.