Washington D.C. — Today, in the midst of a global pandemic, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler finalized a rule that guts protections against toxic mercury pollution by attacking the standards’ legal foundation. This move comes despite the EPA’s own research showing that these standards currently help prevent more than 11,000 premature deaths each year. In response to this announcement, Christy Goldfuss, senior vice president for Energy and Environment Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
It defies common sense that the Trump administration would attack basic standards protecting Americans’ health in the middle of a worldwide respiratory crisis, yet here we are. The EPA’s own scientists have told us that mercury pollution has been linked to severe and permanent lung and brain damage in people who have been exposed, especially children and pregnant women. This move shows that the only promises Trump is willing to keep are those made to his coal executive donors—not the many vulnerable Americans who will suffer the extreme health consequences of toxic air pollution. There is never a good time to roll back protections for clean air, but this just might be the worst.
Mercury emissions from power plants dropped by a stunning 81.7 percent from 2011—when the standards were announced—through 2017, according to a 2018 CAP analysis that warns against undermining these critical emissions safeguards. The analysis also provides estimates of mercury emissions in all 50 states.
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