WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is celebrating National Child Health Day by moving forward with a proposal to attack limits on lead, mercury and other dangerous air pollution from the nation’s coal-fired power plants, putting children at risk from known brain poisons and toxic pollutants.
According to news reports, the Environmental Protection Agency drafted a plan now before the White House Office of Management and Budget to undermine national Mercury and Air Toxics Standards finalized in 2011. Upon their release, the standards were projected to prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks yearly, while delivering annual health benefits totaling up to $90 billion. The utility industry has been complying with the standards since 2015.
John Walke, Clean Air Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, made the following statement:
“This is a sweeping attack on considering the benefits of cutting hazardous pollution from coal plants. It’s the first legal step toward eliminating mercury, lead and other dangerous pollution standards entirely. And what the Trump EPA is pursuing — the fraudulent denial of real-world benefits from clean air and climate safeguards — is the unholy grail of the polluting industry and its lobbyists for decades.”
For more see:
The Obama-era EPA finalized the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards after years of deliberations, receiving 900,000 overwhelmingly supportive public comments and working with the utility industry to make them workable and effective.
The utility industry supports keeping them in place, as a broad coalition attested in this July, 2018 letter to EPA: https://www.euci.com/utility-industry-urges-epa-to-keep-mercury-emissions-rule-in-place-and-speed-reviews/
The safeguards are delivering substantial benefits: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-11/documents/20111221matsimpactsfs.pdf
Eliminating the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards was on a wish list Bob Murray, head of Murray Energy Corp., the largest coal company in the U.S., gave to the Trump administration in early 2017. Wheeler worked as a lobbyist for Murray Energy from 2009 until recently.
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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.