U.S. Senate voted against a resolution that would block the US EPA from enforcing its new standards for mercury and air toxics
For Immediate Release
LEAN: Senate Vote on Mercury Pollution a Victory for Public Health
The Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) commended the United States Senate today for its vote against a resolution that would block the U.S. EPA from enforcing its new standards for mercury and air toxics.
The Senate voted 53-46 to reject Senate Joint Resolution 37 by James Inhofe of Oklahoma, which would have blocked EPA’s enforcement of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). EPA finalized the MATS standards on December 16, 2011, over twenty years after the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments. Louisiana Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter both voted to prevent EPA’s enforcement of the MATS.
“This was a vote for sound policy and the health of Americans,” said Marylee Orr, Executive Director of LEAN. “EPA estimates that the MATS standards will help avoid 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 asthma attacks in the U.S. each year, and up to 290 premature deaths in Louisiana. Minority and low-income populations are the most at risk from these health effects. The American Academy of Pediatrics stated in testimony before the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee that children are particularly at risk.”
Orr noted as well that there are substantial economic benefits from the new standards. “EPA also estimates that these improvements to the nation’s air will have a value of between $37 to $90 billion each year, including the avoidance of up to 540,000 missed work ‘sick days.’ The agency calculates as well that benefits of the rule outweigh its costs by between 3 and 9 to 1, depending on the discount rate and benefit estimate used.
The results are important for Louisiana. LEAN supported the EPA’s mercury standard when it was announced in December 2011, and noted that a number of Louisiana facilities could be covered by the MATS rules. Existing plants will have up to 4 years to comply with the standards if needed, and under the Clean Air Act state permitting agencies can grant an additional year for technology installation if needed.
“These regulations are reasonable and long-overdue,” said Orr. “They are not ‘job-killers.’ They do factor in costs, most especially the costs to public health, our economy, and our environment from emissions of mercury, lead, chromium, arsenic and other highly toxic air emissions. The standards for new plants and improvements in older ones will also result in job creation for installation, transportation, and maintenance.”
The purpose of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) is to foster cooperation and communication between individual citizens and corporate and government organizations in an effort to assess and mend the environmental problems in Louisiana. LEAN’s goal is the creation and maintenance of a cleaner and healthier environment for all of the inhabitants of this state.
For more information go to www.leanweb.org U.S. EPA, “Healthier Americans – Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS)”, www.epa.gov/mats/health.html;
U.S. EPA, “Mercury and Air Toxics in Louisiana,” www.epa.gov/mats/whereyoulive.html. American Academy of Pediatrics, Testimony of Dr. Jerome Paulson, Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, June 15, 2011, http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=ef33d9ca-b306-4a76-b6d0-12956e850ed8.  U.S. EPA, “Healthier Americans.”  U.S. EPA, “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants…”, Federal Register February 16, 2012, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-02-16/pdf/2012-806.pdf  LEAN, “Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for Power Plants,” December 21, 2011, http://leanweb.org/our-work/air/mercury-and-air-toxics-standards-for-power-plants  U.S. EPA, “Cleaner Power Plants; Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), www.epa.gov/mats/powerplants.html