By: Jennifer Cantley, Nevada 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
Good evening. I would like to start with thanking you so much for your time today. My name is Jennifer Cantley. I am a mother of three beautiful boys and two amazing step kids and the lead field consultant of Moms Clean Air Force and EcoMadres in Nevada. I live on the unceded lands of the Washoe, in the rural capital called Carson City. I am speaking today to support this administration’s proposal to reinstate the appropriate and necessary finding of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
Though I am currently living in Carson City, I grew up in Gardnerville, an even smaller rural community with the beautiful Carson River flowing off the Sierra Mountains. I have many memories of playing and fishing with my family and friends in the river as a young child up until the age of seven, when my mom told my brother and me that we could longer play in the river due to the pollution contamination. Because if this, I cannot pass down and share the memories of the river. This area is now a Superfund site that spans 330 square miles, including 130 miles of the Carson River into Lyon, Storey, Carson, Washoe, and Churchill Counties in Western Nevada.
I am testifying today because I am concerned about the impacts of mercury pollution in Nevada, on sovereign nations, and across the country. Mercury disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable community members, pregnant women, and children. There is no safe level of mercury consumption, and all Americans are counting on you, as you are the US government's agency to protect our environment, to protect us, and it is your job to protect ALL communities from industrial pollution, like mercury. I emphasize the word all because often rural communities are forgotten about during rulemaking. I am urging EPA to take swift action to help protect the health and safety of my children and future generations by working to reduce mercury pollution.
I have family members of mine who live out in McDermitt, Nevada. They have been exposed to mercury from industry as well. Not only do they have a coal-fired plant in Humboldt County, but they have had firsthand mercury poisoning from mining on what little of their lands they have left of their Paiute-Shoshone Territory. On the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Reservation, they have already needed mercury cleaned up as an EPA Superfund site.
Many people visit Carson River to fish or play with their children in the water and are greeted with signs saying this is an EPA Superfund site and that fish may be contaminated. The wildlife fish and game consumption guidelines help ensure that people don’t consume high levels of mercury. Pregnant mothers, developing babies, and young children are especially vulnerable since mercury can cause long-term losses in IQ scores, impaired motor function, learning impairments, and behavioral problems in their children. The Walker River Pauite Tribe, whose name means Trout Eaters, can no longer fish in the Walker River, and the trout are gone due to mercury and other pollutants that have led to a decline in the fish population. Tragically this is one of the Tribe's long-standing traditions that has been lost.
All families and, most of all, children just need clean air, water, and healthy food to have a safe future. The communities living adjacent to coal-fired power plants are oftentimes low-income communities or communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by industrial pollution.
That’s why the job of the EPA is so important—to set the health-protective rules that power plant operators have to follow across the entire country.
Thank you for listening to my testimony today. I respectfully request that EPA move forward to reinstate the appropriate and necessary finding of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. EPA has a responsibility to protect the thousands of vulnerable children who are exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution every day, especially as we are going through a world pandemic that specifically attacks the lungs with these vulnerable communities being hit the hardest.
Thank you for your time today.