What's at Stake
The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will annually prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, and nearly 5,000 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks.
A decision for the coal industry would mean thousands of people across our country would continue to die unnecessary, premature deaths—all to protect the profits of the worst corporate polluters.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency exempted power plants from Clean Air Act regulations, even though these power plants emit into the air tons of mercury and other toxins—known threats to human health.
In 2012, after more than a decade of Earthjustice litigation on behalf of community, environmental and public health groups, the EPA released protections that will clean up toxic air emissions from power plants across the country, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS).
MATS will annually prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, nearly 5,000 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks, and more than 540,000 missed days of work days. MATS will reduce mercury emissions by 75%, protecting babies and children from exposures to mercury than can damage their ability to develop and learn. The EPA has estimated that every year, more than 300,000 newborns face elevated risk of learning disabilities due to exposure to mercury in the womb.
In April 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld MATS. Industry appealed and on March 25, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in industry's challenge to MATS. The coal industry and its allies are claiming that EPA cannot decide whether to protect the public and the environment from toxic air pollution without first considering the effect on the industry’s bottom line.
A decision for the coal industry would mean thousands of people across our country would continue to die unnecessary, premature deaths—all to protect the profits of the worst corporate polluters. Many responsible power plants have already reduced their pollution, and several of those companies are supporting MATS in court. As those companies said in a Supreme Court filing in EPA’s defense, MATS put an end to the “free ride” enjoyed by the worst polluters.