EPA Issues First-Ever Limits on Mercury & Toxic Air Pollution

Danny K Boyd via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson issued new pollution standards on mercury, arsenic, and a number of other toxic and carcinogenic pollutants emitted from the of burning fossil fuels. According to the New York Times, the EPA says that the rules will "save thousands of lives and return financial benefits many times their estimated $9.6 billion annual cost." It will force the nation's dirtiest coal plants to upgrade their operations, and clean up emissions.

The NY Times has more:

The Environmental Protection Agency introduced new standards on Wednesday sharply limiting emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from the nation’s 1,400 coal- and oil-burning power plants ...

“By cutting emissions that are linked to developmental disorders and respiratory illnesses like asthma, these standards represent a major victory for clean air and public health – and especially for the health of our children,” Ms. Jackson said.

Of course, the GOP and its allies in the fossil fuels industry will be working overtime to stall the new rules--look forward to claims that the rules will be "overburdensome" or will cause "mass blackouts" and other scare tactics. Anti-EPA mainstays like Sen. James Inhofe are already taking aim at the rule, claiming it's a "thinly veiled" tax or some other nonsense.

And bear in mind that utilities will have four years to make the necessary upgrades--there will be no rolling blackouts this Christmas season. Only the very dirtiest, oldest, and most egregiously pollution-belching power plants will be effected.

Frankly, this rule is long overdue. There's no reason we should be breathing mercury and arsenic when we have the technology to largely prevent it. Cheers to the EPA--and let's do our part to make sure these rules stay in place. Stay tuned for more, as other THers will chime in on the importance of these new rules in coming days.

Tags: Air Pollution | Coal | EPA

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