The nation's electric utilities reduced emissions of mercury nearly 5 percent between 2007 and 2008, as the recession slowed economic activity and decreased demand for electricity and other forms of energy.
The decreases in North Carolina were much more dramatic, according to a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that settles in rivers and waterways, contaminates fish and can cause birth defects in people.
No power companies in this state rank among the nation's top 50 mercury emitters, the report says. And the state's mercury emissions in 2008, the last year for which data is available, were the lowest since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began tracking the data in 2000.