Washington, DC – 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 90 percent.
“Today President Obama stood up to the polluters and protected kids’ health,” said Paul Rolfe, federal field organizer for Environment Florida. “This landmark achievement reflects what every parent knows, which is that powering our homes should not poison Florida’s kids.”
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. Florida emits the 15th most mercury from its power plants and the effects can be seen in mercury levels of Everglades’ wildlife like the Florida panther.
Dr. Lynn Ringenberg, President of Physicians for Social Responsibility Tampa Bay also applauded President Obama and the EPA for standing up and fighting for what is right for America's health and safety.
“Mercury is a frightening neurotoxin causing major genetic and developmental damage to babies and young children. Reducing mercury from coal-fired power plants will greatly improve the health of everyone, but especially our children…our most precious resource. Thank you again President Obama!”
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.
Sierra Club Regional Representative Phil Compton joined Environment Florida in praising today’s announcement.
“Sierra Club applauds the president and his administration for their courage and resolve in protecting American families and children from this dangerous toxin and for standing up to polluters’ attempts to weaken this life-saving protection.”
Compton also highlighted the dangers that mercury poses to any woman who may become pregnant and her child by way of contaminated fish.
“For decades Florida state health authorities have warned us of the danger of eating tuna and 80 types of fish caught all over Florida, including grouper. In the near future, all fish will much safer for young women to eat without fear of harming their future families. Until then, Sierra Club invites everyone to protect themselves from mercury by downloading its new Safe Sushi app, free (http://www.beyondcoal.org/sushiapp).”
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, 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 in Florida and nationwide. 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.
“It’s abundantly clear that Floridians and people across the country want cleaner air, healthier kids, and less toxic pollution spewed into our air, and thankfully, President Obama and EPA are taking action,” said Rolfe. “This landmark standard will improve Floridians’ quality of life and protect children today and for generations to come from known poisons.”