Today, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first-ever nationwide standard for mercury and air toxics pollution from power plants. A record 907,000 Americans submitted comments on the standard, which is expected to cut toxic mercury pollution from power plants by 91 percent.
“Today President Obama stood up to the polluters and protected kids’ health,” said Adam Garber Environmenter, Field Director with PennEnvironment. “This landmark achievement reflects what every parent knows, which is that powering our homes should not poison Pennsylvania’s kids.”
Power plants are the largest single source of mercury pollution in the U.S., and exposure to mercury and other air toxics is linked to cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks and premature death. According to a recent PennEnvironment study, Pennsylvania power plants emit the third most mercury pollution in the nation. Right now, mercury pollution is so widespread that one in ten American women of childbearing age has enough mercury in her blood to put her baby at risk, should she become pregnant. By limiting emissions of mercury and air toxics from power plants, the Obama administration’s new standard is expected to prevent 130,000 cases of childhood and save 11,000 lives every year.
PennEnvironment was joined by Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA-2) and Democracia Inc. in praising today’s announcement.
“The EPA under Administrator Lisa Jackson has once again forged ahead to protect our environment and the safety of all Americans, especially the underserved women and children most vulnerable to toxic mercury pollution,” Fattah said. “Pennsylvania is ground zero for mercury pollution from coal power plants -- the third biggest emitters of this toxin in the country. I will keep fighting in Congress to get EPA the resources and support it needs to keep doing its job.”
For decades, the coal industry, many utilities and their allies in Congress and past administrations have successfully delayed cutting mercury and other toxic air pollutants from power plants to protect public health, even though technology to control toxic air pollution is widely available, and already being used by some power plants.
"Studies show Latino's have significantly higher levels of mercury in their blood, due to communities' proximity to power plants. The new standard is an important step forward to tackle this health crisis amount our community,” said Fernando Trevino, NE Regional Director of Democracia Inc., one of the nation’s largest Hispanic civic engagement and issue advocacy organizations.
The new life-saving standard announced today has widespread public support in Pennsylvania and nationwide. Last summer, roughly 907,000 Americans submitted comments on the new standards—the most comments ever received for an EPA rule—and the vast majority of them were in support of the standard.
“It’s abundantly clear that Pennsylvanians and people across the country want cleaner air, healthier kids, and less toxic pollution spewed into our air, and thankfully, President Obama and EPA are taking action,” said Garber. “This landmark standard will improve Pennsylvanians quality of life and protect children today and for generations to come from known poisons.”