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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.
 

Really, you don't think you or your family are immune to asthma or lung cancer. Don't be a fool!

Please come to the defense of the breathing-impaired.

I urge President Obama to make the coal industry responsible for the toxic emissions like mercury that pour into our air and waters. Also, do not let them pour out their other toxic emissions of fear about how Americans are going to lose their jobs, because plants will not be able to stay open. These magic "lie buttons" need to be pressed back into the the lobbyists' faces and I advocate having the lobbyists' faces with long noses splashed before the public eye.

All politicians and all lobbyists who repeatedly lie, change facts, cause damage must be made prominent to all the people, whatever party they represent. As we are all being programmed for instant gratification, we need to say NO -- to false statements that mislead and just plain lie -- and these distortions continue to injure people, animals, the environment.

Dare we hope for a strong committment to finally addressing this most damaging industry?

Mountaintop removal must be next!

Lobbyists who say that the EPA are job killers are hiding the truth that their desire to deregulate the EPA and foul the environment creates a people-killer agenda.

It has always amazed me to see the extremes to which we go to protect the public from a passing puff of tobacco smoke while disregarding the far greater dangers. Under 20% of US adults smoke, and restrictions are so stringent that most of us have no exposure to tobacco smoke whatsoever. The most carcinogenic type of smoke is the kind that contains oil particles, from burning fossil fuels. It is also prevalent, and we've actually loosened air quality controls in recent decades. As long as the demand for cheap energy is so high in the US, and supplying that energy is so profitable, there will be no focus on reducing consumption. The US searches for alternatives to foreign oil rather than alternatives to burning fossil fuels.

Mercury is neurotoxic and is adversely affecting millions and millions of Americans. I myself went blind in 1998 from mercury toxicity. Thankfully through extreme and prolonged detoxing I can see. I do continue to suffer neurological symptoms. Reducing and regulating coal ash is essential for quality of life. The time is NOW for the strongest legislation possible to reduce mercury poisoning. It is time for Obama to stand strong and do the right thing.

I agree wholeheartedly with Eileen Bardel's statement on this issue.

Legislation must be passed that will keep Americans safe from mercury poisining. I urge President Obama to push for the strongest measures possible to protect our environment.

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