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DR. DONALD BARNES:MERCURY, COAL, AND POWER:How Environmental Policy Evolves in the United States and in the World
published date:2013-07-11
Time:2nd July, 2012, 10:00-11:30 am

Location:Room 301, Old Geology Building

Topic:MERCURY, COAL, AND POWER: How Environmental Policy Evolves in the United States and in the World

Introduction of Speaker:

Dr. Donald Barnes is retired after more than 20 years of service at the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in Washington, DC, where he was a member of the Senior Executive Service serving most recently as the Director of the Science Advisory Board (SAB) of USEPA. Under his leadership, the SAB produced hundreds of reports and conducted hundreds of public meetings examining the scientific and technical underpinnings of USEPA regulations designed to protect public health and the environment. Prior to leading the SAB, Dr. Barnes enjoyed ten years as Senior Science Advisor to the Assistant Administrator for Pesticides and Toxic Substances. During his career, he was three times award the Gold Medal for Outstanding Service, the USEPA’s highest award, for a range of accomplishments in scientific risk assessment and the scientific basis for regulation of dioxin compounds. Prior to joining USEPA, Dr. Barnes taught at St. Andrews Presbyterian College, for ten years, where he rose to become the Chair of the Division of Mathematical, Natural, and Health Sciences. He received a PhD in chemistry (with a chemical physics focus) from Florida State University for research conducted at the University’s Institute of Molecular Biophysics.

About the lecture:
The US and the world became aware of the environmental problem of mercury as a result of a tragic episode of mercury pollution that was discovered and slowly unfolded in Minamata, Japan in 1956. In 1990, the US Congress granted the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) authority to regulate industrial sources of air-borne mercury that contribute significantly to anthropogenic mercury in the US environment.
Following the four steps of risk assessment -- 1) Hazard Identification, 2) Dose-Response Assessment; 3) Exposure Assessment; and 4) Risk Assessment – USEPA carefully constructed the scientific case for controlling mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. On Dec. 16, 2011, President Obama announced the issuance of effective regulations of these plants, more than 20 years after the task began.
This lecture will examine the pathway leading to the final regulation, highlighting the interconnected roles of law, science, and power – electrical and political – in the process. He will focus on what has been accomplished so far and what remains to be done in order to fully confront the global challenge of mercury pollution.
Department of Environmental Management