Supreme Court deals major blow to kids’ health

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Environment California

This morning in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s first-ever national standards for mercury pollution from power plants. The standards would have applied to roughly 600 plants, cutting mercury pollution up to 90 percent and preventing an estimated 11,000 deaths each year.

“The court’s decision to let polluters off the hook is a huge setback for our kids’ health,” said Environment California’s Michelle Kinman. “But we’ll keep fighting for clean air and a healthier future. Polluters’ days of dumping unlimited deadly toxins into our air are numbered.” 

Power plants are the number one source of mercury, a potent neurotoxin linked to developmental disorders in newborns. More than 4 million women of childbearing age have enough mercury in their bodies to put their children at risk. The standards would have also limited other deadly toxins including arsenic and cadmium, as well as acid gases and organics. 

After receiving more than 800,000 public comments supporting strong limits on mercury pollution, EPA finalized its standard in February 2012, and it took effect in April of this year. But in November, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge of the rule by some states and affected polluters, such as the National Mining Association and the Utility Air Regulatory Group.

Environment California’s sister organization Environment America was among a number of environmental and health organizations who supported the defense of these health safeguards in court.