One of the first issues I worked on when I started at Earthjustice in 2004 was a lawsuit we filed to compel the EPA to take action on mercury and other toxic air pollution from cement kilns. This was during the Bush years, and despite winning in court, the EPA did next to nothing to abide by the law and clean up the air for dozens of communities living around these big polluters.
Today, we all finally have reason to celebrate. After thousands of emails, dozens of press releases, phone calls, meetings and your support, the EPA announced plans that will cut more than 16,000 pounds of mercury from our nation’s cement kilns every year, starting in 2013. The rule also cuts thousands of pounds of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride and other pollution, and promises to prevent up to 2,500 premature deaths each year.
From today’s press release:
Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that interferes with the bran and nervous systems, resulting in birth defects, loss of IQ and developmental problems. Particulate matter causes serious health impacts on lungs and breathing, including decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty in breathing. Hydrogen chloride also causes respiratory problems such as coughing, irritated nose and throat, and hearing problems.
It is a great victory that I can honestly say would not have been possible were it not for your actions to email the EPA, call their offices, attend public hearings and maintain a strong drumbeat that we want clean air and we deserve a healthier environment. Earthjustice attorneys are proud to represent in court the reasons federal agencies must follow the law. But it’s often when these agencies begin to hear directly from the public that change really starts to happen. So take a deep breath and say congratulations to all of us on a great clean air victory. We certainly deserve it.