Today, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, an effort to strike down the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics standard for power plants. The standard is the first-ever nationwide standard for mercury and air toxics pollution from power plants, and will cut toxic mercury pollution from power plants by 90 percent while saving 11,000 lives.
Jillian Hertzberg, Associate with Environment America, issued the following statement in response:
“Today Senator Inhofe is sacrificing our children’s health to protect polluters. The Mercury and Air Toxics standard is a landmark public health safeguard that has been decades in the making, and is a breath of fresh air. Sen. Inhofe’s action will allow polluters to get away with poisoning our children.
“It’s clear that Americans want cleaner air, healthier kids, and less toxic pollution spewed into our air—and thankfully, after decades of industry resistance and delay, EPA has taken action. We can’t let polluters and their allies in Congress stand in the way of the benefits this lifesaving standard is set to deliver.”
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. 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.
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.
The new life-saving standard has broad public support nationwide. In 2011, 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.