A blog to keep current on MPIRG'S fight for social and environmental justice.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

MPIRG applauds EPA’s new mercury rule

Most of us assume someone is protecting our air and water from becoming unhealthy, even toxic. We expect the air we breathe and the water we drink to be clean. Even reasonable expectations are often met with harsh realities, but not this time.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently moved forward with new rules limiting emissions of mercury and other toxics from power plants. Protecting the public from harmful air pollutants like mercury, arsenic, and acid gases is a public health priority. Moving forward with this rule will save thousands of American lives, spur innovation and job creation, and protect our communities. We applaud the EPA’s decision to stand its ground and move forward with the strongest air toxics protections possible to defend public health and protect children from toxic mercury.

This new rule will reduce the mercury emissions from power plants by 90%. Mercury contamination in the U.S. is so widespread that up to one in ten women of childbearing age is likely to have mercury levels in her blood high enough to put her baby at risk for mercury poisoning.

Not everyone is happy that the EPA is protecting public health and the environment. That’s right; the dirty emissions spewed by the power plants are almost as bad as the misleading scare tactics spewed by their lobbyists in Washington. Industry leaders have told us that if these rules were implemented our lights would go out and we’d be forced to eat contaminated food. I sat in a well lit room this morning, ate some waffles and yogurt, and listened to the morning news.

The fact of the matter is that the technology power plants need to comply with these new rules already exists and is being used successfully. Furthermore, installation of this modern air pollution technology will support 46,000 new short-term construction jobs and 8,000 long-term utility jobs.

This new rule is a common sense step forward that protects public health and the environment. The EPA and President Obama deserve our thanks on this one.

Written by Jamison Tessneer, MPIRG Organizing Director

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