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Published May 3, 2009 06:46 AM

Proposed Federal Acid Rain and Mercury Control Act

A Central New York congressman, seeing an opportunity that may never come again, has introduced a bill requiring the most drastic cuts in U.S. history to the pollution responsible for acid rain.

Rep. John McHugh said he wants to tie his "Acid Rain and Mercury Control Act" into a landmark energy and climate change bill that Congress will begin considering this week, with the goal of a vote by June.

The climate legislation to control greenhouse gases received a boost last week when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ruled that global warming is a danger to public health and welfare.

The EPA's action sets the stage for the federal government to regulate carbon dioxide pollution and five other greenhouse gases linked to climate change.


But the EPA, and the separate global warming bill making its way through Congress, do not address all of the pollution from coal-fired power plants. The pollution contributes to acid rain, which has devastated lakes and forests in New York for decades. Among the pollutants that McHugh wants to target is mercury, which also poses a risk to human health.

McHugh, R-Pierrepont Manor, who proposed a similar bill to tackle acid rain in 2007, said he believes now is the best chance to finally solve the problem with federal legislation.

"One of the primary motivators for reintroducing the bill at this time is because of the debate surrounding climate change," McHugh said. "I didn't want acid rain to be left out."

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