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Earlier this week, EPA announced that it will allow the public until June 28th to comment on its proposed rules to reduce toxic mercury emissions from gold mining.

These rules are sorely needed because gold mining is one of the largest polluters of mercury to air — which ultimately ends up in our rivers and lakes, and the fish we eat. The state of Nevada — home to the nation’s largest concentration of gold mines — issued its own rules in 1996.  But there are no regulations that apply to mines in other states.  Under the new regulations, the proposed Donlin Mine in Alaska would be able release up to 3,000 pounds of mercury into the air — an unacceptably high amount.

EARTHWORKS will soon submit our own comments on EPA’s proposed rule. We’ll also be sending an action alert asking everyone to comment — and providing guidance on how best to make your voice heard (although you needn’t wait for us).

With all the bad environmental news going on in the Gulf, this is good news. Gold mining mercury air pollution has been a big problem for years. At last EPA is taking concrete steps to do something about it.  But the new mercury regulations need to be much more stringent for new mines.