Next time you flip on the light switch, how would you respond if a little voice asked you “Thanks for your order. Would you like cancer with your electricity? How about some brain-poison?”
Weird question, right? Unfortunately, power companies are one of the biggest toxic polluters in the US, dumping millions of pounds of cancer-causing, brain-poisoning toxins like arsenic and mercury into the air each year. The toxins are found in the coal that is burned to supply about ½ of our nation’s electricity.
This week, hundreds of people have shown up to hearings in Philadelphia and Chicago organized by the US Environmental Protection Agency to say “no thanks” to toxic pollution from power plants, and support the EPA’s proposals to make power companies reduce the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, acid gases and other nasty stuff they release into the air.
(To let the EPA know you support reducing toxic pollution from power plants, take action here.)
As the Associated Press explained,
Several hundred people, from environmentalists and physicians to mothers and fishermen, testified before a panel of federal environmental officials on Tuesday to urge the passage of proposed new standards to limit the amount of air pollution that coal-fired power plants can release into the atmosphere.”
One those physicians was Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt, medical director of the poison control center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, who said
Young children are uniquely vulnerable to the toxic effects of environmental poisons such as mercury and arsenic. These compounds are especially dangerous to the developing brain and nervous system.
Some of the speakers pulled no punches. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported,
Rabbi Daniel Swartz leaned toward the microphone at Tuesday's hearing on proposed federal rules to limit mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.
By allowing emissions to continue, "we have, in effect, subsidized the poisoning of fetuses and children," the Scranton rabbi said.
In Chicago, a similar scene unfolded, as the Chicago Tribune reported, with supporters of limiting toxic air pollution coming out in force, as noted by Chicago radio station WBEZ:
Midwesterners who testified at a public hearing in Chicago Tuesday afternoon were overwhelmingly in favor of the proposed EPA plan.”
One of those speaking in Chicago was NRDC’s Shannon Fisk, who focused on the critical need for EPA to act swiftly to reduce toxic pollution, saying,
[Some] in industry are pushing EPA to delay …my question to these agents of delay is how much is enough. How many lives are they willing to sacrifice in order to have even more time to install pollution controls that have been available for decades?”
Polling shows that throughout the nation, Americans strongly support reducing toxic air pollution from industrials sources. A February 2011 survey by Public Policy Polling revealed that 66% of Americans support “requiring stricter limits on the amount of toxic chemicals such as mercury lead and arsenic that coal power plants and other industrial facilities release.”
The EPA’s final hearing on the toxics rules is in Atlanta today. But going to a hearing isn’t the only way for concerned citizens to weigh in.
If you’d like to say “no thanks” to cancer-causing and brain-poisoning toxins from power plants, send a comment directly to the EPA in support of the toxics proposals by using our quick and easy action page.