Toxic air pollutants from power plants—mercury, lead, arsenic, and others—are linked to health problems such as cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks, and even premature death. Mercury, for example, is a potent neurotoxin that poses a threat to fetal and infant brain development. And coal plants are far and away the greatest source of mercury air emissions in the United States.
Shockingly, there are currently no national limits on the amount of mercury and other toxic pollutants that power plants can spew into the environment. This gap in our public health protections is all the more disturbing since the Clean Air Act required the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to start regulating toxic pollutants more than two decades ago. Thankfully, in mid-March, the agency finally proposed a mercury and air toxics rule, which will limit hazardous air pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants.
Even though the new standards are affordable and would deliver enormous health benefits, some energy companies and their allies in Congress are already working to block or weaken them.
The EPA is now accepting comments on its proposed mercury and air toxics rule. The agency needs to hear from concerned citizens like you, who want a strong rule that protects the public from these dangerous pollutants.
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National Field Organizer
UCS Climate and Energy Program