By: Elizabeth Hauptman, Michigan field coordinator, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: February 24, 2022
About: Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for Power Plants: Proposed Reaffirmation of the Appropriate and Necessary Finding, Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OAR–2018–0794
To: Environmental Protection Agency
I’m Elizabeth Hauptman. My family and I live on a lake in Brighton, Michigan. I’m also the field coordinator with Moms Clean Air Force Michigan. We have 31,000 members here in Michigan and over a million nationally fighting for clean air and climate for the sake of our children’s health.
Michigan is lucky to have over 11,000 lakes, rivers, and streams. Some of my fondest childhood memories are fishing on Lake St. Clair, baiting hooks with my cousins. Our uncle would cheer us on every summer as we caught walleye and yellow perch, eating the bigger ones for dinner. It was magical. But it will be harder to pass down this same magic to my son and his family if our fish are unsafe to eat. These fish can be consumed only in small amounts, and this affects commerce and recreation for all Michiganders.
Most mercury exposure happens through the consumption of fish. People who eat fish more frequently, like recreational or subsistence fishers, are at higher risk for experiencing health impacts from mercury. There are many fish consumption advisories due to mercury contamination for water bodies across the United States. Michiganders need to eat less fish because of the impacts of mercury in the Great Lakes. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there are 13 different species considered seriously contaminated by mercury as listed in the Eat Safe Fish Guide.
Mercury is especially dangerous for developing babies and children. It can cross the blood-brain and placental barriers after ingestion, leading to toxic effects on fetal and infant brains. When pregnant women eat contaminated fish, mercury can cause long-term losses in IQ scores, impaired motor function, learning impairments, and behavioral problems in their children. There is no safe level of mercury consumption. It is unacceptable for energy generation to spew mercury into the air, harming our families. Whatever our energy source is, it needs to comply with strict standards on mercury air toxics.
The time to act is now. EPA’s proposal to reinstate the legal foundation of the standards that limit mercury and other toxic, carcinogenic pollution from coal-fired power plants is a public health necessity. It will shore up standards that have helped slash mercury pollution by more than 80%. As a parent, a lifelong resident of the Great Lake State, I urge you to finalize this proposal and swiftly move forward with strengthening the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards to help protect families from the pollution that can cause cancer, lung disease, brain damage in children, and other serious health harms. Thank you.