"Oregon's top environmental agency plans to side with one of the state's biggest polluters in its effort to seek an exemption from tough new federal rules controlling the release of toxic mercury.
Last year the state and the owners of an eastern Oregon cement kiln hailed their agreement for the Ash Grove Cement Co. to voluntarily spend roughly $20 million to cut its output of airborne mercury by 75 percent or more.
But that deal was reached in the absence of any federal regulation of mercury from such kilns. Now the federal government is stepping in with nationwide rules that would require an even greater drop in mercury pollution from the Baker County plant, the nation's largest single source of airborne mercury."
Matthew Preusch reports for the Portland Oregonian August 19, 2009.