President Obama Announces Landmark Mercury Standard for Power Plants

Media Contacts

Environment Connecticut

West Hartford, CT – 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 American’s health,” said Environment Connecticut Research & Policy Center Program Director, Christopher Phelps.”

Power plants are the single largest 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. 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 asthma symptoms and save 11,000 lives every year.

Momentum for the new federal power plant pollution limits began with state-level standards in Connecticut and other states. Such state-level action helped prove that significant cuts in mercury pollution were indeed possible.

For decades, the coal industry, utilities and their allies in Congress and past administrations 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.

The new life-saving standard announced today has widespread public support. 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. 

“Our families need clean air to breathe and thankfully, President Obama and EPA are taking action to cut air pollution from power plants,” said Phelps. “This landmark cut in power plant pollution will improve our quality of life for generations to come.”