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July 29, 2011

Standing Up for Strong Mercury Protections

Press conf
Today the Sierra Club joined Rep. Lois Capps, Rep. Doris Matsui, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in front of the U.S. Capitol Building to urge approval of Rep. Capps' move to protect children and families from toxic mercury pollution. Also on hand was the American Lung Association, who just unveiled a new ad campaign about mercury's threat to children (hence the baby carriage in the photo above), and many other environmental organizations.

Right now in the House of Representatives, Republicans are attempting to block EPA's mercury protections through an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill, adopted in committee. Rep. Capps is standing up for communities by offering an amendment to undo the amendment's mercury provisions. The House will take up the Interior Appropriations Bill this weekend, including the Capps amendment. We expect the vote to be sometime Saturday or Sunday. 

DWS Reps. Capps, Matsui, Schakowsky and Wasserman Schultz (speaking in the photo to the left) are all mothers - and three are grandmothers - and appealed to parents in the House about the risks of toxic mercury. Mercury is a brain poison that particularly affects young children and the unborn.

Mercury exposure can cause brain damage and learning disabilities in developing fetuses and young children, and it is estimated that each year over 400,000 newborns are exposed to potentially harmful levels of mercury.

"How can any parent want this?" asked Rep. Capps and the other speakers during the press conference.

Rep. Capps even spoke about her own elevated mercury levels, which she discovered after working with the Sierra Club to get her hair tested. She wrote this editorial about her mercury levels, and also spoke about it in the House.

Power plants are the largest manmade source of mercury, soot, and smog pollution in the U.S., and standards to limit these toxic and deadly air pollutants are long overdue.

Js We're helping distribute this flyer (PDF) to encourage more Representatives to vote for Capps' amendment this weekend - this on the heels of a environmental coalition sending this letter (PDF) to Capitol Hill encouraging the same. That's Rep. Schakowsky looking at our flyer in the photo to the right.

Call your Congressional reps right now to urge them to vote for the Capps Amendment. Call this number to learn more and then be connected to your rep: 888-491-9296.

Now is the time to protect our children and families from toxic mercury pollution.

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