Last summer, we reported that researchers found that song birds nesting on Dome Island had 15 to 20 times more mercury in their blood than birds from other sections of New York State. The scientists’ next task was to determine the source of the mercury: midwestern power plants, abandoned industrial sites, closed landfills or emissions from cement manufacturing plants. Scott Lorey of the Adirondack Council told us at the time that cement plants will deposit heavy concentrations of mercury within a local radius, and we were surprised to find that little had been done to compel cement plants to cut mercury emissions. That’s why we were gratified to learn that nine states, New York included, had reached a settlement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency requiring new limits on the amount of mercury and other toxic pollutants that cement plants can discharge. The EPA’s new rules were drafted to address mercury and other toxic emissions from Portland cement plants nationwide, including those located in New York. Portland cement is the most common type of cement and a basic ingredient of concrete, mortar, stucco and grout. New York state is home to three Portland cement plants: the LaFarge plant in Ravena, the St. Lawrence plant in Catskill, and the Glens Falls plant near Lake George. Collectively, these three plants discharge roughly 170 pounds of mercury emissions in New York’s air each year – about 20 percent of all mercury emitted annually in the state. If the cement plants are the source of the mercury that is poisoning Lake George’s songbirds, those new rules would have been a necessary first step in restoring the health of Lake George’s bird population. Unfortunately, the US Congress has chosen to block EPA’s power to force cement plants to comply with these new regulations by suspending funding for implementation and enforcement. What’s even more unfortunate, Lake George’s representative in Congress, Chris Gibson, not only voted with the majority, but boasted about it. In his “60 Day Progress Report” to his constituents, Gibson noted that he had “voted to defund significant portions of EPA’s overreach.” Given that mercury emissions from cement plants may be threatening Lake George’s wildlife, that’s hardly something to be proud of.