By: Hazel Chandler, Arizona 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
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. I am Hazel Chandler an Arizona field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force living in Phoenix, Arizona. I support this administration’s proposal to reinstate the appropriate and necessary finding of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
I am a mom, grandmother, and recently a great-grandmother who has spent my life advocating for our children, elderly, and most vulnerable. My background is in government, nonprofit, and business working with people of all ages, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. I have worked in early childhood development, elementary education, health care, social services, mental health, and environment/climate change.
My management work in health and early childhood development led me to observe the impact of emissions from coal-fired power plants firsthand. As a Regional Director for the Arizona early childhood program First Things First, about 10 years ago I met on several occasions with parents, early development specialists, and medical staff at a clinic near the Cholla coal-fired power plant in Northern Arizona. I heard repeated stories of parents whose children had severe developmental delays, behavioral and learning difficulties as well as health issues such as asthma. Most identified the increased air pollution from the Cholla plant in their concerns. They talked about living under a constant toxic brown cloud. The child development specialists and doctors were extremely concerned about the number of children with significant respiratory issues and developmental delays in this area. They were concerned about toxic substances such as mercury found in these children’s bodies. While the focus of this meeting was the children, the staff also expressed extreme concerns about the elderly as well. This clinic serves a diverse population, but a significant number of the patients lived on the Navajo Nation.
The pollution from living near a coal-fired power plant not only degrades their air quality but also threatens the health of those living nearby. Mercury is especially dangerous for developing brains of babies and children as it can cross the blood-brain and placental barriers after ingestion, leading to toxic effects on fetal and infant brains. It is well-known in medical and child development circles that it can interfere with normal brain development, lowering IQ, causing learning and behavioral problems. This is exactly what I heard from these very concerned parents and health professionals.
I personally have been impacted by air pollution for most of my adult life, resulting in progressive lung damage, cancer, difficulty breathing, and asthma attacks. Just traveling to this community on numerous occasions resulted in significant respiratory issues and an asthma episode. I cannot imagine what my life would be like if I had to live near one of these plants.
We cannot continue to cause permanent harm on another generation of children. For the sake of the children and most vulnerable, I ask you to support the proposal to reinstate the appropriate and necessary finding of MATS, and I ask you to go further and strengthen MATS.