Regarding "Regulators target mercury pollution in Willamette Basin" (Capital Press, May 3).

Environmental regulators too often try to blame farms and forest lands for problems that are a far more urban problem. The mercury that drifts in the air over the U.S. from China's burning coal settles to the ocean, lakes, rivers, city streets, buildings, farms and forest land equally.

The mercury that lands on farms and forest land is primarliy soaked into the ground and becomes part of the ground water that is later taken up by plants and trees. Some of the ground water is filtered through the soil to eventually become stream flow. A very small percentage of rainfall, only when the ground is saturated during storm events, may flow overland directly to receiving water.

By contrast, the paved streets, buildings and hard surfaces do not absorb water. When it rains all the water along with all the contaminants flow down storm drains directly to receiving water. The urban areas of Portland and other cities in the Willamette Valley probably contribute far more risk of mercury pollution than all the farms and forest land in the whole state of Oregon.

The environmentalists should heed the wisdom of the comic page cartoon character "Pogo" when he stated: "We have found the enemy and they are us."

Kelly Niemi

Kelso, Wash.

Recommended for you