Every year, many Americans young and old get sick because of air pollution. Thousands die. But our lungs don't have to be the dumping ground for dirty industries. Clean air should be a fundamental right.
EPA will issue final toxic air standards for power plants
Mark your calendars. Dec. 16 is going to be a big deal—particularly for families with children across the country. I know that Alvin, Simon and Theodore are getting Chipwrecked that day, but that's not what I'm thinking about. There's something even bigger coming down: the Environmental Protection Agency is going to release final standards to clean up mercury and other health-damaging toxic air pollutants from power plants.
Mercury is a serious threat to fetuses and young children—it can cause brain damage and other kinds of developmental problems. Power plants are far and away the biggest industrial sources of it. Collectively, in 2010, they emitted more than 33 tons of mercury. The EPA's draft standard, issued last March, would cut mercury emissions from power plants by 90 percent. Power plant pollution also causes serious respiratory problems—aggravated asthma attacks, for example—and even premature death. The EPA's draft rule would prevent as many as 17,000 premature deaths every year.
To draw attention to the upcoming announcement, the American Lung Association is running a hard-hitting commercial that highlights the impact of power plant air pollution on kids' health.
Many power plant operators are fighting hard to prevent these standards from being issued. Their opposition and lobbying prowess is a big part of the reason it has taken more than 20 years to get where we are today. But while they continue to demonize and vilify clean air standards, it's worth recalling that more than 900,000 public comments were submitted in support of strong standards to reduce power plant pollution. We're proud that Earthjustice supporters contributed nearly 50,000 of those comments.
Our litigation has been a big factor in getting the EPA to issue these standards, and we're eagerly awaiting the announcement on December 16th. We'll keep you posted on the final standards and continue working for the right of all Americans to breathe clean air.