EPA Mercury Rollback Exposes Communities, Kids, and Wildlife To Increased Toxic Pollution

Washington, DC — The National Wildlife Federation urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to halt moves to weaken standards designed to protect Americans against mercury pollution. The regulatory move, which runs counter to centuries of scientific consensus on the health hazards mercury poses to people and wildlife, would undercut the 2011 Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS).

“Mercury is toxic to children and pregnant women — damaging the central nervous system and harming fetal development. When we fail to reduce mercury from sources like coal plants, it winds up in our waterways and builds up in our food chain, especially within fish populations” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The Administration’s proposal is so unconscionably bad that the regulated power industry — which has already invested more than $18 billion to reduce these incredibly harmful pollutants —opposes it. This rollback is as reckless as it is dangerous to our communities and wildlife. We urge EPA to keep the mercury standards in place to keep Americans safe.”

The EPA has submitted a proposal for White House review that would severely limit consideration of health benefits that justify the existing strict mercury standards for coal-fired power plants. Next steps may include a proposal to directly weaken or undo the emissions requirements.

Based on the EPA’s own projections, maintaining the MATS rule would annually avoid:

  • Up to 11,000 premature deaths
  • Nearly 5,000 heart attacks
  • 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits
  • 130,000 asthma attacks

 Read more about the dangers of mercury poisoning in NWF’s recent blog.

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