« TiEcon Takes On Clean Energy For All | Main | Turkish Coal Tragedy Puts Emphasis on Transition to Clean Energy »

May 13, 2014

Big Victory for Public Health

Mill-Creek-KY-coal-plantMill Creek coal plant in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by John Blair.

When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld limits last month on dangerous emissions of mercury and toxic air pollution from power plants, it was a big victory for clean air, clean water, and the health of our families. The court decision keeps in place the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) standard, which is on track to eliminate as much as 90 percent of the mercury and air toxics currently released into our air by coal-fired power plants.

As the mom of a young daughter, I know that mercury pollution is of special concern to families, because babies exposed to high levels of mercury in the womb are at higher risk of lifelong developmental problems including lowered IQ, learning disabilities, and delays in walking and talking. Mercury exposure is so widespread that, according to EPA studies, at least 1.4 million American women of childbearing age have enough mercury in their bodies to put a fetus at developmental risk.

Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of these toxic air pollutants and account for almost half of the nation's mercury emissions. Back in 1990, Congress updated the Clean Air Act and directed the EPA to set limits by 2002 for mercury, arsenic, lead, and the many other hazardous air pollutants that power plants emit. But big polluters stood in the way, so health and environmental advocates had to fight to put the standards in place. After a decade of delay, the agency finalized the Mercury and Air Toxics rule in 2012. A group of polluting corporations and a handful of states immediately filed a lawsuit challenging the rule, and in April they lost that challenge -- a big win for our health and our environment.

Along with mercury and arsenic, power plants discharge numerous other toxins and acidic gases into the air that threaten public health and child development. Exposure to even low levels of these powerful air pollutants are linked to cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks and even premature death.

When the EPA proposed these life-saving mercury protections, Americans demonstrated their overwhelming support, turning out to public hearings and submitting more than 800,000 comments supporting the MATS rule. I was part of that long push to finalize the standards, and I know how many people poured their time, energy, and passion into winning these mercury safeguards. By upholding these protections, the court has cleared the way for this nation to keep making progress in protecting the health of our kids, and powering our nation with clean, safe energy.

-- Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign

 

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b96069e201a73dc3045f970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Big Victory for Public Health:


User comments or postings reflect the opinions of the responsible contributor only, and do not reflect the viewpoint of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any posting. The Sierra Club accepts no obligation to review every posting, but reserves the right (but not the obligation) to delete postings that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate.

Up to Top

Find us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Rss Feed



Sierra Club Main | Contact Us | Terms and Conditions of Use | Privacy Policy/Your California Privacy Rights | Website Help

Sierra Club® and "Explore, enjoy and protect the planet"® are registered trademarks of the Sierra Club. © 2013 Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club Seal is a registered copyright, service mark, and trademark of the Sierra Club.