A crucial win to get toxic mercury out of the air

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will save thousands of lives

Families and clean air advocates helped us secure standards that reduce mercury and other toxic emissions from power plants.

EPA/Flickr

Few federal standards have the power to save lives like the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

Once fully implemented, these standards will remove substantial amounts of the toxic mercury from coal-burning power plants that ends up in our our air, water and food — along with limiting arsenic, chromium, nickel and toxic acids.

The standards were completed by the Obama administration in 2011, but were met with considerable opposition from industry lobbyists, leading to prolonged legal battles.

However, a critical court ruling in April 2014 in favor of the standards means they will most likely go into full effect in April 2015. EDF's legal team was one of many groups who helped protect the standards from opposition.

Already experiencing benefits

Many companies have already taken action to meet the standard, as compliance is required by the time the standards go into effect.

"We're already experiencing health benefits driven by the rule, with more to come," said Pamela Campos, EDF attorney. "It brings the power sector into line with air toxics emissions already achieved for many other sectors."

Why this was worth the fight

When fully implemented, MATS will:

    1. Improve children's health

      More than 400,000 infants are born annually with elevated mercury levels in their blood, which can damage developing brains. The new MATS standards will eliminate 90% of mercury emitted from coal-fired power plants.

    2. Lead to fewer premature deaths

      The emission reductions in this rule will result in up to 11,000 fewer premature deaths each year.

    3. Cut rates of chronic disease

      The new rule will prevent thousands of heart attacks, bronchitis cases and asthma attacks.

    4. Save money

      A projected 540,000 fewer missed work or "sick days" and less frequent trips to emergency rooms will save as much as $90 billion a year.

Standing strong for clean air

Because further appeal is always possible, our legal team stands ready to continue to defend the rule.

We need your continued support to fight back and save our clean air.

EDF has been fighting for these crucial health protections for years.

Vickie Patton Vickie Patton EDF General Counsel