Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indefinitely delayed crucial health protections designed to reduce public exposure to airborne toxics such as mercury, arsenic, lead, and acid gases by thousands of tons per year. The delay or “stay” puts off the effectiveness of pollution controls for more than 13,000 boilers and process heaters operating at major sources of industrial pollution. According to EPA’s analysis, the health benefits of the standards—now indefinitely delayed—would have outweighed their costs by $22 to $54 billion.
“Two years ago the Obama administration took office vowing to protect public health and respect the law,” said Earthjustice attorney James Pew. “Today’s action disserves both of these principles. By the EPA’s own calculations, the health protections it has elected to delay would save up to 6,500 lives each year.”
Each year that EPA delays this rule also will result in 4,000 non-fatal heart attacks, 4,300 hospital and emergency room visits, more than 41,000 asthma attacks, and more than 300,000 missed days of school and work. The Clean Air Act required EPA to end this suffering more than ten years ago.
“We are deeply disappointed in the EPA’s decision to delay this critical protection against toxic air pollution,” said Sanjay Narayan, senior staff attorney for the Sierra Club. “The EPA has all of the tools it needs to move these protections forward and save thousands of lives, and it is difficult to understand why they are delaying action.”