The workforce included both representatives from the utility industry and environmentalists.
Both groups agree mercury emissions-largely from coal-fired power plants- need to be reduced. But how much and in what time frame is where they disagree.
The Public Interest Group in Michigan wants to reduce emissions by 90 percent by the year 2013. Spokesperson Kate Madigan, of PIRGIM, says this goal is attainable and affordable. Madigan also says there is technology available today to reach this goal.
But Consumers Energy spokesman Daniel Bishop says utility industry experts say that technology is not available yet. Utility industry representatives say they are for the federal regulations of a 70 percent reduction by 2018. Anything more than that, Bishop says could hurt the state of Michigan's economy by raising energy costs.
These issues, and whether reductions more than federal regulations will be mandatory or voluntary, will be looked at this summer by the Department of Environmental Quality and Governor Granholm.
High mercury levels in fish have been found to cause developmental delays in children. Women of child-bearing age are especially at risk for complications.
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