- Associated Press - Sunday, July 19, 2015

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - One Nebraska city is considering suspending its mercury control efforts at its power plant to save money while federal officials review the rules requiring that.

The rules governing mercury controls at coal power plants are on hold after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month.

Grand Island Utilities Director Tim Luchsinger tells The Grand Island Independent (https://bit.ly/1SvtbTV ) he expects the mercury rule to be reinstated in some form, but suspending the program could save the city more than $250,000 a year.

“We would not have to do any mercury removal with the system until the rule came into place, but we will still have the system there ready to go,” he said.

The Supreme Court said the Environmental Protection Agency should have considered the costs and benefits of its plan before deciding to impose limits on mercury and other hazardous air pollutants.

But the mercury rule wasn’t rejected entirely. Instead, a lower court will now review the rule and determine the best way to conduct a cost-benefits analysis.

Since 2011, Grand Island has spent $47 million to install additional pollution control systems at its power plant. So it already has a mercury control system in place, but operating it costs about $250,000 a year for the carbon powder that’s used to collect the mercury.

Luchsinger said the upgrades the city has made to the power plant were good investments to help protect the environment.

“Frankly, I can’t argue that a 37-year-old coal plant shouldn’t have some additional emission control devices on it, so it’s something that overall is a good thing for us,” Luchsinger said.

City leaders will have to decide whether to take advantage of the court ruling for some short-term savings before the mercury rule is finalized.

“It’s more a matter of when, than if, it’s going to happen,” Luchsinger said.


Information from: The Grand Island Independent, https://www.theindependent.com

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