EPA has announced a proposal to reinstate the legal foundation of the standards that limit mercury and other toxic, carcinogenic pollution from coal-fired power plants. This proposal is a public health necessity. Mercury is known to harm babies’ and children’s brains and can also harm cardiovascular health. This proposal will shore up the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which have helped slash mercury pollution from coal plants by more than 80%.
However, parents can’t rest easy just yet. We must do more to protect fetal and infant brains. Coal plants continue to emit dangerous quantities of hazardous air pollution, and no amount of mercury exposure is safe for a child’s brain.
It is time to move forward with strengthening the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards so that brain damage in children, as well as other pollutants that cause cancer, lung disease, and other serious health harms, are no longer a threat to our families’ health and well-being.
What are the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards?
The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, finalized in 2012, are a lifesaving, effective pollution prevention program that specifically protects pregnant women and babies from harm from the brain-damaging heavy metal mercury—along with other terrible poisons. The mercury standards have helped to dramatically lower mercury emissions from coal plants—which were the largest source of mercury pollution in the US.
EPA estimates that the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards save up to 11,000 lives each year, prevent thousands of heart attacks each year, prevent thousands of asthma attacks each year, and prevent thousands of hospital and emergency room visits each year.
The economic benefits of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are as high as $90 billion each year, outweighing the costs of fixing the problem by up to a margin of 9 to 1. Furthermore, utilities found it was far less expensive than they predicted to install made-in-America “scrubber” technology to keep the mercury out of air.
Biden’s EPA has committed to fix the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which were undermined by the Trump administration.
In 2020, the Trump administration and EPA finalized a change to the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards that withdrew the legal justification for the rule, known as the “appropriate and necessary finding,” putting the standards at risk.
On January 31, 2022, President Biden’s EPA Administrator, Michael Regan, proposed that the EPA reinstate the appropriate and necessary finding of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, restoring the legal foundation of the standards. This will shore up standards that have helped slash mercury pollution by more than 80%, and shift the power sector toward cleaner energy. Dozens of Moms Clean Air Force staff and members from 15 states and Washington, DC, delivered testimony in support of EPA’s mercury proposal at the virtual public hearing on February 24.
February 28, 2022: How the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards Protect Our Babies
February 9, 2022: Mercury: From Coal to Table
February 4, 2022: Moms Make News: Raising Methane, Mercury and Much More
June 29, 2020: Wheeler’s Voodoo Mercury Accounting
November 4, 2019: Protecting the Mercury Rules Is a Crucial Moment for Our Babies
March 21, 2019: Moms Testify at EPA Mercury Hearing