Although few people would identify me as an environmental blogger, I have in fact written many posts about environmental issues over the years. From the Asian carp threat to the Great Lakes, to the hydrofracking debates my City Council constituents care about. From the Harriman coal ash spill’s warnings for my state of Ohio to supporting Science Debate 2008’s efforts to keep science issues front and center.
Now, in recognition that my kids know more about and demonstrate greater concern for how we take care of our environment than sometimes I do, I will be writing in conjunction with a group of other bloggers who are also moms, like me, and care deeply about these issues too. The Moms Clean Air Force, with which I’m participating, is dedicated to providing information and opportunities for us to show support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations released just last week (see here) which seek to establish, “the first-ever national standards for mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from power plants.”
It’s easy to go catatonic when we witness the toll that man-made risks, natural disasters and the two combined wreak on our planet. So being given the chance to give attention to an issue about which we can make a difference made a difference to me.
What is so critical about the issue of mercury that is emitted from power plants? Read:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing standards to limit mercury, acid gases and other toxic pollution from power plants, keeping 91 percent of the mercury in coal from being released to the air. Harmful particle pollution will also be reduced, preventing hundreds of thousands of illnesses and up to 17,000 premature deaths each year. Currently, there are no national limits on the amount of mercury and other toxic air pollution released from power plant smokestacks.
Toxic air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants cause serious health impacts. Mercury can harm children’s developing brains, including effects on memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills. Other toxic metals such as arsenic, chromium and nickel can cause cancer. Mercury and many of the other toxic pollutants also damage the environment and pollute our nation’s lakes, streams, and fish.
Reducing toxic power plant emissions will also cut fine particle pollution and prevent thousands of premature deaths and tens of thousands of heart attacks, bronchitis cases and asthma attacks. EPA estimates the value of the improvements to health alone total $59 billion to $140 billion in 2016. This means that for every dollar spent to reduce pollution from power plants, we get $5 to $13 in health benefits.
The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments mandated EPA to control toxic air pollutants more than 20 years ago. Since then, EPA has taken action to reduce mercury emissions from all the highest-emitting sources – except power plants. The technology to control toxic air pollution is well-developed, widely available, and already being used by some power plants. In addition, meeting the proposed standards will create good jobs for American workers needed to build, install and operate the equipment to reduce the harmful emissions of mercury and other toxics.
You can find more information here related to the proposed regulations including:
- Proposed Rule (PDF) (946pp, 1.9 MB)
- Fact Sheet Summarizing the Proposed Rule (PDF) (5pp, 36k)
- Overview Presentation (PDF) (18pp, 797k)
- Overview Fact Sheet (PDF) (5pp, 48k)
- Regulatory Impact Analysis
- Integrated Planning Model (IPM) Analysis
Also, you can participate via the public comment period by reviewing those materials and emailing the EPA directly at: at: firstname.lastname@example.org It’s suggested that emails reference docket ID numbers related to the proposed regulations:
Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2011-0044 (NSPS action)
Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0234 (NESHAP action)
Truth be told, I have a great deal to learn about the dangers around us and what we can do to eliminate, moderate and alter them for the better, so I barely hesitated to say yes when asked to join this effort. I hope you will follow along and, similar to my “don’t get mad, get elected” philosophy, choose to not get catatonic as you too learn about what we do to our environment when we’re not paying attention…and pay attention with me.
As with other projects I’ve worked on (most recently the Women’s Campaign Forum’s election coverage last year), I am being compensated for my writing. As always, however, my content will not be edited by anyone except me – and whomever chooses to editorialize in the comment section, also per the usual for this blog.