Above and beyond. MPCA recognizes Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power for working diligently at reducing mercury emissions.
We depend on electricity-producing power plants for almost everything we do; without them our world comes to a screeching halt. But as critical as this power generation is, we want it done in a way that produces as little pollution as possible. Historically, coal-burning power plants have been a major source of mercury emissions, which contribute to concerning levels of this potent neurotoxin in fish that we eat. Recently, Minnesota’s two largest producers of energy, Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power, have to committed to slashing mercury emissions from their plants, going well beyond the goals set by the Legislature.
When mercury particles are emitted to the air they fall to the ground with rain and snow, which ends up in surface water and into the aquatic food chain. That’s why you see fish consumption advisories from time to time.
State and federal mercury regulations have been tightened a number of times over the last several decades, all as efforts to reduce mercury emissions. In 2006, Minnesota’s Mercury Emissions Reduction Act, created by stake holders, industry, environmental groups, and regulators, passed without opposition in the legislature. In the coming years both Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power took significant actions to reduce their emissions. Actions included retiring coal operations, switching to low-mercury coal, retrofitting plants to natural gas, installing new emission monitoring equipment, and using carbon filtration.
Most recently, the 2014 Minnesota Mercury Rules were passed which call for a 93-percent reduction over 1990 baseline emissions by the year 2025. Both companies got together and agreed to reach their emission goals by 2018. This leadership by example has led other industries around the state to more aggressively and proactively reduce their mercury emissions to meet or beat deadlines. Learn more about how these companies are working toward cleaner air on the Xcel Energy website and the Minnesota Power website.
For working with a competitor and setting an example for other industries to follow, the MPCA thanks Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power for going above and beyond to reduce mercury emissions and improve air quality.