by Daren Bakst
Senior Research Fellow in Agricultural Policy, Heritage Foundation
North Carolina utility consumers may face higher rates for no justifiable reason if extreme mercury regulations are adopted. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is regulating, for the first time ever, mercury emissions from power plants. The purpose is to minimize potentially harmful mercury levels in fish consumed by humans. However, there has never been any documented case in the United States of mercury poisoning from fish. Data linking fish consumption to any type of adverse effect in humans is very weak. In addition, the EPA acknowledges that it does not know the impact mercury emissions from power plants have on the mercury levels in fish. Despite the lack of benefits and the additional costs, North Carolina’s Environmental Management Commission (EMC) is considering whether to adopt regulations which exceed the new and stringent federal standards.