Americans Can Now Comment on Trump Administration Assault on Mercury Protections

February 7, 2019
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396,

(Washington, D.C. – February 6, 2019) The Trump administration has started accepting public comments on its efforts to unravel the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards – protections against some of the most dangerous types of pollution in our air that can get into our waters and even our food.

EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler formally proposed reconsidering the foundational building blocks of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards on December 27, just one day before EPA effectively closed for the government shutdown. EPA will now accept public comments for 60 days, starting today. Americans can send comments to EPA through EDF’s website.

“The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are some of the strongest and most effective protections we have against the dangerous pollution that sickens our children and families. They are popular, cost-effective and successful. It’s almost inconceivable that Acting Administrator Wheeler would attack them,” said Mandy Warner, EDF senior manager for climate and air policy. “We urge all Americans to write to EPA and make your opinion heard.”

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards reduce toxic pollution from our nation’s coal-fired power plants. They have been a proven success in protecting American families from some of the most dangerous types of pollution – including mercury, which causes brain damage in babies; arsenic; lead; chromium and nickel, which cause cancer; and acid gases, which cause serious lung disease.

EPA’s own estimates show the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths each year

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are already in effect and protecting Americans. The power industry is already in compliance with the standards. Since 2011, mercury pollution from power plants has dropped by more than 80 percent, and EPA estimates the benefits of the standards outweigh the costs by a margin of 9-to-1.

Wheeler has claimed he isn’t undermining the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards – he’s just reconsidering the underlying basis for them. But weakening the underpinning of the standards will put them in danger, in the same way that you can’t expect a building to stand if you demolish its foundation.

Almost no one in America wants the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rolled back. Power sector industry and labor leaders, the Chamber of Commerce, Members of Congress from both parties, health organizations, environmental groups, moms’ groups, and faith groups have all asked Wheeler to leave the standards in place. Wheeler is moving ahead with his proposal in spite of the overwhelming opposition.

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