You can imagine the problems this caused for the current administration: would it protect its important unborn babies constituency, or help out its buddies in the mine-and-burn industries? As it turned out, the unborn babies lost out (they don't pay admission at fundraising dinners, after all) and the EPA weakened previous rules so that mercury pollution wouldn't be regulated until 2010. Until then, they probably expect us to practice our abstinence.
We here in the northeast probably aren't as important a constituency as the unborn babies, but there are more of us, and due to prevailing wind and weather patterns, a lot of the nation's mercury ends up here. This map from the NRDC web site shows the main sources of atmospheric mercury in the USA (click the link for an interactive map that identifies sources by state. Maine has six, most of them paper mills). The national map shows a clear cluster of coal and chemical plants in the Midwest, especially in the Ohio River Valley, right upwind from the nation's most populous region. There's another cluster around the city of Chicago, which gets most of its electicity from coal-fired plants run by Midwest Generation.
Midwest Generation produces the most mercury pollution in the state, but here's the good news: after negotiations with Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, the utility has agreed to cut emissions more quickly and more deeply than required by the federal law. Instead of cutting emissions by 70% by the year 2018, Illinois power plants will have to cut emissions by 90% by the year 2015. The utility has also agreed to cut other pollutants, and speculates that some older coal plants may shut down entirely rather than install new equipment.
Mercury pollution will still persist for a long time in the bodies of the animals and people that absorb it, and globally, the problem will get worse with additional coal generation in China. But it's nice to know that utilities in Illinois will soon be sending fewer neurotoxins down the jet stream.
From the Chicago Tribune: Utility to cut coal emissions