EDF, Allies Will Defend EPA’s Strengthened Mercury and Air Toxics Standards in Court

June 4, 2024
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – June 4, 2024) A broad coalition of health and environmental groups, including Environmental Defense Fund, will help defend EPA’s updated and strengthened Mercury and Air Toxics Standards against a court challenge.

The groups filed a motion to intervene with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit late yesterday.

“The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards protect Americans against some of the most dangerous kinds of air pollution – pollution that can harm brain development in babies and cause a slew of serious diseases, including cancer, in adults,” said EDF senior attorney Surbhi Sarang. “In the last decade the successful and cost-effective Mercury and Air Toxics Standards have saved tens of thousands of lives, and the improvements that EPA just finalized will help save even more. We plan to vigorously defend the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards against this mercenary court challenge.”

EPA strengthened the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards at the end of April as part of a suite of actions to reduce pollution from U.S. fossil fuel power plants.

Coal-fired power plants emit mercury, which is linked to brain damage in children and heart disease in adults, as well as other toxic pollutants including cancer-causing arsenic, chromium and nickel. Since the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards were first adopted more than a decade ago they have saved more than 160,000 lives.

EPA has a duty under the Clean Air Act to regularly update the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. The most recent update improves the standards to keep more mercury and toxic pollution out of our air by closing a dangerous loophole that allowed lignite-burning coal plants to emit more than three times the amount of mercury as other plants. The update also strengthens the standards for monitoring other toxic pollutants and improves monitoring requirements to bolster accountability.

A group of states led by North Dakota and West Virginia sued to overturn the updated protections.

Yesterday EDF, along with Air Alliance Houston, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Lung Association, American Public Health Association, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, Clean Air Council, Clean Wisconsin, Downwinders at Risk, Environmental Integrity Project, Montana Environmental Information Center, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Ohio Environmental Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Sierra Club, formally filed a motion to intervene with the D.C. Circuit to join the case in defense of the updated Mercury and Air Toxics standards.

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One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund