Sometimes I’m overwhelmed — in a wonderful way — by the beauty of this world. Springtime does this to me. Everything waking up, coming back to public life — the presentation of flowers, of buds, the unfurling of sweet tiny early leaves, looking like baby ears. We’re still here! We made it through the winter. We are all together.
And sometimes I’m overwhelmed — in a terrible way — by the cynicism and immorality with which we harm each other, and our world.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt — who is sworn to uphold rules that clean up our air — is going to the courts again in a continuing assault on the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which regulate some of the most dangerous air pollutants emitted by coal-fired power plants. What’s even more troubling about Pruitt’s latest move is that the standards are already in place, with nearly every power plant in compliance — and mercury levels in our waters are beginning to drop.
The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards reduce mercury, arsenic, chromium, and hydrochloric acid gas. Not just mercury, but other horrible poisons. These pollutants are hazardous to human health even in small doses — for instance, mercury causes brain damage in developing children; metal toxics like chromium and nickel cause cancer; and acid gases cause serious lung diseases.
Anything that puts more mercury into our air and water is wrong. Immoral, actually. End of story. We know how to keep it out — and keep our economy strong, our power plants prospering, and our electricity reliable and abundant. So why take us backwards?
Backwards is the direction Scott Pruitt has set. He wants to make America dirty again. His crippling budget cuts to EPA — already one of the tiniest parts of the national budget — mean that we won’t have the resources to keep air clean. His legal assault on the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards — already finalized and almost fully implemented — mean that polluters will get to put more mercury into the air.