March 16, 2011-Washington, DC:   In response to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) announcement today of its proposed Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, 13 leading public health and environmental advocacy groups released the following statement:

“Today, the Environmental Protection Agency took sensible action to protect public health by limiting for the first time emissions of life-threatening toxic pollutants like mercury, arsenic and acid gases, dioxin and lead from power plants. This long overdue and critically important action is a significant public health safeguard that will save 17,000 American lives and prevent 120,000 asthma attacks.

“The Mercury and Air Toxics Standard protects public health by reducing a wide range of toxic, particulate and dangerous pollutants that directly threaten public health, and is particularly important for its protection of children. The rule will significantly reduce emissions of mercury, a potent neurotoxin that can harm developing fetuses and young children, causing cognitive difficulties later in life.  According to the EPA's own data, over 300,000 babies are born each year at risk of mercury poisoning and at least 1 in 12, and as many as 1 in 6, American women have enough mercury in their bodies to put a baby at risk.

“Americans across the political spectrum support reducing toxic power plant pollution including mercury. February 2011 polling by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Ayres McHenry showed that 79% of Americans, including 70% of Republicans and 81% of Independents, support stricter limits on mercury pollution.

“The EPA’s move will also level the power generation playing field because the mercury and toxics standards are based upon the performance of the country’s cleanest and best-performing power plants. This sensible approach produces standards that are both reasonable and effective in reducing air pollution and protecting public health. It also ensures that power plants with good pollution controls are not at a disadvantage compared to competitors with no controls.

“Nevertheless, some power companies that have successfully delayed Clean Air Act implementation requirements to reduce the toxic air emissions from their facilities are already fighting the Mercury and Toxic standards, by working to roll back and weaken these public health safeguards.  Congress should choose protection of our families and children’s health over protecting polluter profits, and let the EPA do its job.”

The statement above is approved by the following groups:

Clean Air Task Force
Clean Water Action
Environment America
Environmental Defense Fund 
Greenpeace USA
League of Conservation Voters
League of Women Voters of the United States
Natural Resources Defense Council
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Republicans for Environmental Protection
Sierra Club
Union of Concerned Scientists

Contact: David Di Martino 202-247-7271