Next week, the Senate may vote on a resolution introduced by Senator Inhofe (S.J.Res. 37) that would void health standards reducing mercury and other toxic pollution from power plants and permanently block similar standards in the future.
Yes. Mercury. Lead. Arsenic. Acid Gases. Terrible stuff. And yet, many companies are fighting a rule that would simply require them to add pollution controls such as scrubbers and filters to power plants. Some power plants already have these pollution controls—why should they be at a competitive disadvantage and why should a few companies’ bottom line be allowed to trump our public health?
Once in effect, every year the EPA standards will prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 130,000 asthma attacks, 4,700 heart attacks, and 540,000 missed work or sick days when adults do not go to work or children to school. EPA estimates that the value of the air quality improvements for human health alone totals $37 billion to $90 billion each year, many times over the cost of compliance.
Mercury and lead are neurotoxins that damage kids’ developing brains and other air toxics can cause cancer, respiratory illness and other diseases. Industry has overestimated the costs of the Clean Air Act for decades and has tried to delay these standards that are long overdue. The fact is that the Clean Air Act has been instrumental in improving our air quality in many ways, even while our economy has expanded. We can’t afford dirty air and should not have to put up with mercury and air toxics spewing from power plants when existing, affordable technology can greatly reduce these pollutants.