Dozens of Moms Clean Air Force members and staff from more than 15 states testified this week at the only public hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to attack the legal foundation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
The moms, dads, and kids came to EPA headquarters in DC to publicly denounce a proposal to undermine and weaken the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which set limits on mercury and other toxic, carcinogenic pollution from coal-fired power plants. Mercury, a neurotoxic heavy metal, interferes with normal brain development, reducing IQ and causing behavioral problems. Mercury gets into the air from the smokestacks of coal-burning power plants. From there, it falls on our waterways and gets into fish, and people are exposed through eating contaminated fish. Mercury can disrupt the developing architecture of the fetal brain — and harm the brains of toddlers and adults, as well.
Over the course of the 8-hour hearing, our moms and dads testified alongside other allies, creating a vibrant chorus of opposition to the proposal. Those who opposed the proposal vastly outnumbered the few voices in support. We repeatedly asked the EPA to defend the lifesaving, fully-implemented, and effective Mercury and Air Toxics Standards by withdrawing the proposal. Our moms came from all over the country – from Utah to Maine, from Arizona to South Carolina, and everywhere in between. Some of us had children on our laps as we shared our stories. Some of us showed paintings we had created of our cancer treatment medication. Some of our own children themselves testified.
For 8 years, mercury from coal plants has been on the decline, due to the implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. This national rule has been remarkably successful in protecting American families not only from mercury pollution but also from other dangerous, cancer-causing types of air pollution such as arsenic, lead, chromium, and nickel. The mercury standards are fully implemented, and they are working to keep mercury out of our air, water, and food supply.
In late December 2018, Trump’s EPA proposed to undermine key elements of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, claiming that, as a result of its extremely limited accounting of the costs and benefits of the rule, the rule is not “appropriate and necessary,” a legal yardstick under the Clean Air Act. But moms are not buying this immoral rationale that claims that protecting our babies’ brains from a harmful neurotoxin is neither appropriate nor necessary.
The single public hearing stands in stark contrast to the three hearings EPA held during consideration of the original Mercury and Air Toxics Standards in 2011. The public comment period, at a mere 40 days, is also considerably shorter than the 120 days that Moms Clean Air Force requested in order to gather the full range of responses from stakeholders and the public. A single public hearing and a short public comment period are indicative of an EPA Administrator who is not interested in hearing the voices of those most impacted by pollution standards. Instead, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is heeding the wishes of his former employer, for whom he served as a top lobbyist: coal company Murray Energy.
EPA’s proposal would undermine the legal foundation of the mercury standard, which could eventually make it easier for coal plants to spew mercury into the air. This attack could have devastating health consequences for families across the country, especially pregnant women and communities of color living in the shadow of coal plants. The comment period for this proposal will be open until April 17th. Please join us in voicing your opposition to this proposal.