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Obama's Historic Chance To Control Coal Pollution

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
12 December 2011, 12:06 PM
First-time rules for coal-power toxics are due Friday
How tough will President Obama be on coal plant pollution?

This Friday, the Obama administration has the historic opportunity to rein in a coal industry that has been allowed to pour toxic emissions like mercury, benzene and arsenic into our lives without limit.

There’s little question that the administration will set limits – the law requires it and the courts have ordered it. The question, and the opportunity facing Obama, is how strong those limits will be.

For more than two decades, the powerful coal industry has dodged stricter pollution limits while countless other industries have cleaned up their acts. They have operated without national restraints on the amount of mercury and other toxic air pollution released from power plant smokestacks. The court order ending this free pass is the result of relentless Earthjustice litigation.

The industry isn’t giving up, however. It is ferociously lobbying to weaken and postpone those safeguards. Coal lobbyists are depicting the Environmental Protection Agency's new standards as job killers without acknowledging that coal pollution costs lives. They would have us forget that more than half of all coal-fired power plants have already deployed widely available pollution control technologies and managed to stay open for business. They have also claimed, falsely, that the new rules will compromise electric reliability. Recent reports by the Department of Energy and by business groups and industry analysts repeatedly say otherwise.

These red herrings distract from the life-saving mission of stricter pollution controls. Coal-fired power plants are responsible for 99 percent of mercury emissions, and those emissions have led to warnings against eating fish from mercury-contaminated lakes and streams across America. Children exposed to mercury in the womb or at a young age are at risk of impaired brain function, neurological problems and reduced IQ.

Americans are standing up for clean air and strong safeguards that bring an end to mercury pollution from power plants. People have traveled to Washington from across the country to be heard on this issue, and in the largest outpouring of public comment on a rule ever received by the EPA, 900,000 Americans have written to the agency to support a strong rule. Many of the power companies, including large utilities like Duke Energy and Exelon, are expressing support for strong safeguards.

According to a report by the Environmental Integrity Project, the 50 worst mercury polluters generated nearly half of the power plant industry’s total mercury emissions. It’s time that this minority of bad actors plays by the same rules as everyone else. As these plants are forced to clean up or shut up, clean energy sources like wind and solar can move into the marketplace, creating green jobs that don’t sacrifice public health.

In recent months, President Obama has shown his commitment to creating a clean energy economy by ordering a review of the Keystone XL pipeline and proposing new fuel economy standards that will save drivers more than $80 billion at the pump each year while dramatically reducing carbon pollution. By staying strong on these new air toxics rules for power plants, he will signal his intent to continue down the road to a clean energy future.

While the cremation industry is small in the USA, we live near one that process 50 bodies a week, and the mercury levels in surrounding area is way higher than safe.

In the EU in 2008 they brought in regulations to require every cremator to reduce mercury pollution by 50%.
In the UK cremation causes 16% of all airbourne mercury pollution,

And that is before you breath in the carcnogenic fumes from all that vaporized formaldahyde. America wide it may not be as bad as coal,

But for those living within a few miles of crematoriums, there is a proven link to cancer,
And especially those workers in the administration buildings in the same location,
They have a substantial y higher rate of cancer as do local residents, but that research is being kept hidden by vested interests

Dear President Obama,
Please use this historic opportunity to show that you put the health of American citizens and of their environment first. You have the power to create a cleaner world for all, especially for children who do not have a political voice of their own. Please protect them and all of us. We will bless you for your wisdom in doing so.

Our citizens and our local communities are finally standing up in great numbers and saying no more! No more risk for neurological diseases, learning disorders, lung cancer, pulmonary and cardiac diseases! And no more to global warming and climate chaos! Thank you Mr. President for supporting the people of the United States and the World!

I hope the emissions limits on the coal industry are as strong as possible.
There is no 'clean' coal.

We also need stricter, and better enforced, safety requirements for the coal miners.

We are only as healthy as our air, food and water.

Mike Ripberger - many thanks for your posting the words of Chief Seattle. That makes a much better statement than I possibly could.

I truly believe you will do what is best for our country, the world, your children and future grandchildren.

I thank you ahead of time...............

Please be FIRM

Dear President Obama: I heartily applaud your intention to place limits on coal stack pollutions this coming Friday! This action is long overdue. You deserve thanks from the countless people whose lives will be saved and whose illnesses would result from the dirty air spewing from coal plants. Lung diseases, which my own father died from, do not cause a horrible, slow, painful death.Thank you for this very important act!

Please, just do it !

Dear President Obama:

I'm a fan of yours. And I'm hoping you will set strict limits on coal pollution soon. I see kids with asthma in schools all the time and it's painful to see. We need your help.

Dear President Obama, We desperately need you to be our voice to help our environment and really make a difference. I do believe in you-always have and I stand by my convictions. Please stand with us now and we CAN get this job done!~ God Bless you and your family and Happy Holidays!~

Cleaner power plants is definitely a move in the right direction. How can you build a strong country while simultaneously & subtly poisoning the society? Anyway...

I'm curious - why doesn't the coal industry just up the cost of electricity and blame it on the new standards? Instead, they are lobbying against clean air??? It's crazy... it's like they're telling us "We don't want your money to be clean... we don't want to be clean at all. We want to pollute!".

It's just crazy. They're already lobbying against laws to control their emissions rather than just preparing the public for a 5% increase in fees or something like that.

Dear Mr. Obama,

I have always felt you want to do what is right for the majority of people in the world.....I also have greatly respected the person you seem to be....not just you as President, but you as son, sibling, spouse, father.....

I call on you as a human being and father that wants to do what is right and best for his children and their generation......lets get our country off coal (also oil and gas), stop pipelines running through our country, stop drilling in our wilderness places, stop global warming.....lets leave our children a healthier, safer, cleaner world than we have been given......

Dear Mr. President,

Implementing and enforcing strict pollution control limits on the coal industry is critical as we face the dangerous realities of the human effects on climate change. I encourage you to do everything you can to pass the regulations needed to prevent more dangerous, life-threatening pollutants from entering our precious environment and that those regulations are imposed immediately, with serious consequences for companies that do not comply. I also encourage you to stand up to lobbyists and politicians who are asking for the government to pay for "clean coal" - an unrealistic price tag (trillions) for technology that would pose a number of new environmental issues. I do encourage you to be a strong advocate for solar technology - an industry with immense potential for clean and powerful energy for the world. And, for large tax rebates for the most energy efficient vehicles, appliances, and home and business remodels that will reduce energy need. And, for existing and future low-energy public transportation projects.

Jenny Brown

Dear President Obama:

I am one of your biggest fans. Your instincts are to oppose mercury and its toxicological effects on humans and all wildlife. I can only encourage you to continue this opposition, Kick the lobbyists out of Washington!!! Coal is dirty and an anachronistic power producer. Coal exacts too high a price on your beloved citizens.

Keep the faith. You are the best.

Bill Young

Dear President Obama:

I am one of your biggest fans! Coal is dirty and toxic. Oppose it at every turn, and protect your people. Coal is not an environmentally viable power source.

Don't take any crap!


Consider and reflect upon the words of Chief Seattle from 1854: The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench. But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow's flowers...You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the Earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. This we know - the Earth does not belong to man - man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the Earth - befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life - he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

Dear President Obama

I completely support your decision to place restrictions on the coal industry. One only need look at the environmental nightmare that is unfolding in countries like China to realize how important this is. I believe we cannot afford sacrifice the long term health of our citizens and our environment. Thank you for realizing this.


Emory K. Aaron

Dear President Obama,
You have many supporters out there and we will stand by you as you place strong restrictions on the coal industry to come in line with appropiate standards for the safety and welfare of all.
As you are aware, if not reigned in the continuation of pollution effects not only our air, contributing to many hospitalizations of those with lung disease, the pollution of the soil and water.
Thank you for your leadership.

Dear Mr. President, please stand up for the people of this Country and see that they are protected from these environmental pollutants. It is unconscionable that the coal power industry will not police itself, that the industry considers their bottom line more important than the welfare of the citizens. I'm not surprised, just continually appalled by the ongoing indifference of so many industries.

I also am disgusted with Congress and the attempts by Republicans to add on last minute provisions that will further harm our environment to a bill that the American people need. I believe the American people are fed up with these machinations, and the elections next year will prove that so.

As an individual American who worked to get you elected, voted for you, has continued to support you throughout your Presidency and who will work to re-elect you, I plead for you to show the American people you are with them.

If we cannot as a country decide to forbid practices such as this, we must at least ensure that those who benefit from the commons compensate society for the costs incurred.

We need taxes on carbon and other forms of pollution.

Our beloved President,

It's for you the moment to show the country and the world that you are an incorruptible and iron strong leader when it comes to make crucial decisions that concern the lives of all of us,
men and women, poor and rich, democrats and republicans, old and young.
It's obvious that pollution of our planet, our only home, is the biggest threat tu humankind. We are burning the only house we have.
It's more important than the economy, the politics, actually much more important than anything else because if the planet becomes unhabitable, nothing matters anymore.
No. 1: environment.
No. 2: population reduction (one child policy? ask China how they did it, and still they are too many!) We are not going to eat, drink or breath money, right?
If we want our children to survive the moment to fix the problems is now.
You have to protect your country even if people are reluctant. They have to be informed, from 1st grade school, most of them have no idea of what is happening!
If you are firm, we will support you. Promised!!

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for all the work you do. This business with "Big Coal" has gone on long enough and it's time that someone does something about it.

I am pleased with your work, sir. However, I don't think the general public is aware of all the accomplishments you have made. I cannot speak for everyone but I would include a list of these things in every speech you make, every document you publish, every interview you give.

The Republicans can't seem to shut their mouths, denigrating you and your work. You need to remind people of the amazing things you've done.

I support you and what you are doing.


Jim Jarrett

It's about time to rein in mercury and other pollutants from power plants. Please, Mr. President, make these rules happen now. We also know that customers of power plants will ultimately pay for these controls, but installing them will also bring jobs and improve public health, especially for kids.

Mr President,

I know you will do the right thing when it comes to balancing our environment and our economic interests. Tough decisions are make by good leaders.

Thank you,

Joe Moravek


Since dirty coal is the top polluter in terms of toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases, why not take the money wasted on FEMA each year to reimburse people for severe weather caused by global warming, and put it in a fund to hasten the change from dirty coal to cleaner forms of getting electricity. It's time to make Americans understand that their future is bleak unless something is done to correct global warming. Why should we tax payers who understand that global warming is real, be asked to subsidize via FEMA those people who choose to remain in areas that will continue to be hit by the effects of more severe hurricanes and tornadoes? This is truly money wasted; like giving free booze to an alcoholic and expecting him to address his addiction.

Dear President Obama,

I am one of the persons who traveled to Washington, D.C. from Fairbanks, ALASKA to attend meetings with Begich, Murkowski, the CEQ and the EPA on November 4th and 5th.

It was wonderful to have the opportunity to attend that important function as I and my family have been negatively impacted by the operations of the coal fired power plant some 500 feet away from our family home which was there 30 some years BEFORE the power plant moved in. I was able to share my personal story with the CEQ and the EPA's Manty Stansilous.

The coal fired powerplant spews particulate out constantly. On any given day, I can take a bucket of snow out of the back yard and bring it inside to melt and you'll see a whole bunch of black power plant crap in the bottom of the bucket. Now this a real problem. How do you sell a house that is being assaulted contastantly 24-7 by coal combustion activities?

And there is not one person in the world that can tell me that the crap that they're spewing out doesn't have a hell of a lot to do with the sicknesses my parents got after being in that house for 9 or 10 years. (it was the home mom grew up in and she got it from her dad's estate). immediate story is that I can't sell this house because of the power plant so how do i qualify my parents for medicaid which they require to take care of the health problems caused by the power plant no less!- Not only myself but two Alaskan Pioneers (native Alaskan and Alaska Native of the Cook Inlet Regional Corporation, oft known as CIRI).

I have an extremely compelling story about how the coal fired power plants in our town are having a truly terrifying impact and assault on our health. They are running out of room to dispose of the Coal Combustion Waste and it is being dumped into low lying wetland area all over the small city of Fairbanks Alaska, situated near Ft. Wainwright and Eielson AFB on the Tanana River.

I hope I can make a difference. With YOUR help I know I can. Teresa

We must start paying the true costs of our economic production, and stop passing the tremendous costs of environmental externalities on to our children and future generations.

It is time to pay the true costs of our economic production. We have been passing the costs of environmental externalities on to future generations. We must start living within our environmental means.

You had our hearts and confidence in 2008 President Obama. Since then many of us have been disappointed and saddened by many of your choices. Someone said that it is our choices that reveal who we truly are, more than our abilities.

Please steadfastly make choices for a clean planet. Time is running out and you have the ball.

Mr. President, please stand and insist on strong emission limits for coal-fired power plants.

As you know, coal-fired power plants are responsible for 99 percent of mercury emissions. Those emissions have led to warnings against eating fish from mercury-contaminated lakes and streams across America. Children exposed to mercury in the womb or at a young age are at risk of impaired brain function, neurological problems and reduced IQ. What is the economic impact of those situations? And who pays them? Your administration knows those answers as well.

Moreover, making the real cost of fossil-fuel based energy evident is perhaps the best way to move people away from dependence on fossil-fuels and toward more energy independence and diversity.

Curbing this pollution and protecting our health is the right thing to do.

Dear Mr. President,

Please use your power to set the strongest possible limits to control the coal power industry. There are toxic levels of mercury in nearly all of our waterways at this point. We need to make a dramatic shift in our consumption patterns and setting incredibly strict standards on polluters is a stride in the right direction. I trust that you will do the right thing.

Dear Mr. President,

Please renew my faith in you as being a President who cares about his people's well being and health. A President who has a long term view on the well being of both America and the planet- both economically and environmentally.

Regards Silvana Jakich

Dear Mr. President,

Please use your opportunity this week to very strongly limit the emissions that the coal industry may produce in its production of coal and other products, including its various company administrative uses of power from coal generated electrical plants from which they buy power for their company uses.

The country depends on you to start and to continue acting with courage in these and similar cases that all will have significant effects on our own as well as our children's and their children's health and welfare.

For years, the coal industry has been allowed to pour toxic emissions like mercury, benzene and arsenic into our lives without limit.
It's time to speak truth to power. To bring an end to pollution from power plants. If you don't do it, who will?

We need to care about the planet that we are living on!!! We need to do something Right Now! The planet we are living on is being destroyed as well as all of the people on it.
Please put restrictions on these power plants NOW.
Thank you
Sandra Witecki

The people of this country are bravely demonstrating for their beliefs.

We want a President who will bravely stand with the people.
We want you to stand for our health, safety and well being.

Is that President you, Mr. Obama?

It's about time that coal fired power plants that don't yet have proper filtration get with the picture. The coal companies keep throwing up smoke and mirrors as have big businesses whenever their practices have been challenged. In my opinion, improvements to any industry that help the environment are going to decrease the cost of health care for thousands of people. These improvements will, in many cases, increase jobs as well.

Mr. President,
The time has finally come for this nation to stop hurting itself in order to benefit the few. Pollution and greed are destroying our economy, our people and our environment.
I truly believe that you see these things clearly. Now I'm asking you to have the courage to actually DO something, the Coal Industry is out of control. We need protection. You can enact and enforce pollution protections for U.S.

Please stand by your convictions and promises.

Go for it, President Obama! It's about time that these coal companies stop polluting the air which all oxygen breathing creatures depend on!

It's also high time that the mentality of being "job killers" switches over to job creation into the field of alternative energy.

The republicans talk about "job killing". What about all the "job killing" they did when the big corporations located American jobs over to China, Mexico, India, Vietnam, and elsewhere?

Emissions from Coal Plants are one of the major causes of CO2 and particulate matter pollution, which cause Global Warming through the greenhouse effect, and serious lung problems in children and adults. Strong regulation of these emissions is absolutely essential if we are ever to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to 350 ppm and avoid the disastrous tipping point which looms ahead (and not very far away!)

Stand firm, and inch us closer to the new clean energy economy. I wish you could do more, but you CAN do this, and should.

I admire your efforts in many fields, and I have been heartened by your new bolder stance in the face of the obstructionists. They are only serving their masters, the oil and coal companies, but you can give them the lie every time. Your boldness will put a spine in congressional democrats, who need this bold leadership.

Have a Happy Christmas and a Clean and Prosperous New Year!

Dear President Obama- I have more respect for you than any President in my life time, along with Jimmy Carter. You stand up for what you know is the right thing for the American people, you have us at the heart of your decision making, and you are more brave than most to stand up and not falter. You have done this against much opposition, but I am right there with you to thank you. Please do not waiver on this issue and continue to head us in the direction of Green Energy and make a stand against the toxic waste and by products of coal and the fossil fuels. The heavy metals should not be distributed where it can endanger human and animal life. Help lead the EPA and our country to protective measures against harmful waste and disposal of toxic, power plant polluting substances.
With much admiration and thanks. Melanie Barker, Keith Barker, and Ashley Barker

Dear President Obama- I have more respect for you than any President in my life time, along with Jimmy Carter. You stand up for what you know is the right thing for the American people, you have us at the heart of your decision making, and you are more brave than most to stand up and not falter. You have done this against much opposition, but I am right there with you to thank you. Please do not waiver on this issue and continue to head us in the direction of Green Energy and make a stand against the toxic waste and by products of coal and the fossil fuels. The heavy metals should not be distributed where it can endanger human and animal life. Help lead the EPA and our country to protective measures against harmful waste and disposal of toxic, power plant polluting substances.
With much admiration and thanks. Melanie Barker, Keith Barker, and Ashley Barker

President Obama,

Mercury is for real. As an elemental toxicant, it doesn't turn into something else. Instead it is methylated, allowing it to cross the placenta and the blood-brain barrier.

Today, the world is loading the atmosphere, soils, sediments, fish, and people with mercury from coal smoke, liquid mercury used in gold trapping in South America, Africa, and Asia, and from improper disposal of fluorescent lights (which can instead be recycled).

Mercury's toxic effects, especially its capacity to damage the developing nervous system is well known, and the damage is permanent. It is unreasonable for people who wish to eat freshwater fish to be exposed to toxic mercury.

Please ensure that strict limits on mercury, particulates, and acids from coal smoke -- as well as limits on effluents from solids in fly ash, including other metals and carcinogenic polyaromatic hydrocarbons -- are in place. This is important for everyone now and everyone who will live in the US in the future. In other words, this is a legacy issue!

We can't afford all the health issues and lives lost that are the result of the contaminants being deployed into our environment. For what? Easy money for the greed and lack of commitment to higher standards? Why should we encourage that? There are plenty of alternatives that have jobs available if we pressured our society to meet today's standards. We're educated to know how bad these contaminants are. Why wouldn't we stop them? There are more and more people getting cancer, ADHD, Alzheimer's, etc than ever before. We can't just keep letting it happen. "Pro-lifers" are contradicting themselves by ignoring our vital sources of clean air, water and food. Progression towards survival... or not? It's that simple.

Mr Obama, please stand on your campaign promises to end big coal, oil, gas industry pollution, and bring about change into green energy. Our planet is fast reaching the no turning back point in regards to greenhouse gases and the warming of the planet according to multiple credible science reports. Don't you feel the urgency? The alarm bells ringing louder and louder as time goes on??? This is our home, Mr. President!! We should be taking care of it! The greed of the wealthy industry owners responsible for this greenhouse effect (oil, gas, coal) need to switch industry's, and fast!!! We can do it, the people will switch to green energy if were made readily available and cost effective to them to purchase, and you can make it so!!! Force these industries to switch gears, make the penalites not to switch so high they won't go there, offer incentives into green energy solutions. HELP US PLEASE, THE PLANET IS DYING, AND THAT MEANS ALL LIFE ON IT, MR. PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!! TIME TO SHOUT AND SCREAM AND MAKE IT HAPPEN!!

Please President Obama, please come through for the people of this nation that you so beautifully promised to stand by 3 years ago. We all believed in you so much that we put our hearts, souls and unending time into making sure you and your family would be in the White House. I want to feel like that again. I want to look forward to voting you in, not feel apathetic, disappointed, worn out and despairing about our future because of big oil, big coal and big money. Please stand strong, give us the hope we need to keep fighting against the corporations and money. Stand up for the rights of the people which is what the constitution says, right? Thank you.

Please Mr . Obama, We really need you to stay strong in this fight to save America from Lobbing Coal supporters. It is all about money, not the people that use the coal. I live in an small town in the Midwest and have been part of a group trying to stop our local electric plant from putting a coal ash landfill in one of Missouri's most beautiful floodplains. The water table is so high that last year the ground never dried up. Ameren came in and duped the owner's into selling their property with the sole purpose of of using it for a toxic landfill. This bottom land FLOODS. This toxic dump will ruin the water supply downstream and possibly into the entire state of Missouri because we have two Aquifers that join under this flood plain. Our Esteemed County Commissioners voted two to one to pass a new ordnance to allow landfills, in favor of Ameren. This company has been out of compliance with the clean air act since 2005 and no one has brought any punishments forth to make them do anything. The Commission who voted for this terrible new landfill allowance was put into office by Ameren and has been in their pocket the entire time. We stand to loose everything including our health. Our lake is polluted and we have horses dieing all over the the county.We have lost three already. Please , try hard to do something meaningful while in office. If it doesn't get done now, we will all be paying an even bigger price down the road. If you make this decision, please don't give them 5 years to comply. They will be grandfathered in by then and everyone will be in danger .

I am truly thankful to President Obama for representing and fighting for the interests of Americans. Instead of chasing the easy sponsorship from the powerhouses and the lobbies that pollute and destroy our beautiful country. Pollution from coal fired plants has been a sore eye in our communities, it has contributed to unnecessary pain and deaths.

It is time that technology and money is used for the safety and well being of Americans, instead of increasing the bonuses of few irresponsible ones.

We are the consumers the Coal people say they are saving jobs and money for. We would rather take the clean air and pay what ever price we have to for clean energy.


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