(AP) Minneapolis - The state's pollution control agency is praising utility companies for cutting their mercury emissions in half over the last decade.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency celebrated the reductions Monday at Xcel Energy Corp.'s riverside plant in Minneapolis, one of several plants that has drastically cut emissions.

Agency commissioner John Linc Stine says the state is about three years ahead in its plan to cut mercury emissions at coal-fired electrical plants by 90 percent.

The Legislature set that goal with the Mercury Emissions Reduction Act of 2006.

Mercury is a toxic pollutant released from utility plants, taconite production and consumer products like older thermostats and cars. It accumulates in fish and is most harmful to children and pregnant women.

Ninety percent of the mercury in Minnesota comes from outside the state.

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