The Obama Administration won an important court battle this week when a federal appeals court upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) landmark Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants. The court’s decision is a huge win for public health and our environment.
This ruling was extremely important as coal-fired power plants are the largest contributors to mercury pollution, emitting roughly 48 tons every year. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that is especially dangerous for pregnant women and children, as it has been linked to birth defects and can damage children’s developing brains. Mercury pollution in the air gets carried via rain into our waterways where it accumulates in our food sources. The EPA safeguards also address other toxic air pollutants that can lead to serious health problems such as respiratory illnesses and even cancer.
By upholding the EPA’s rule, the court made it clear that the EPA has the authority to protect the air we breathe by placing the first-ever limits on the amount of toxic pollution that power plants can emit into our atmosphere. The impact that this rule will have on our health is significant. When implemented in 2015, it will prevent over 100,000 heart and asthma attacks each year while significantly reducing the number of hospital visits and work days missed. This rule will also create thousands of good paying jobs to upgrade and operate new pollution control equipment.
The Obama Administration took this historic step forward to keep dangerous pollution out of the air we breathe and the water we drink, and we are excited to help implement this rule in the years to come. Yesterday’s victory in the courts is a clear win for our economy, our environment, and our health.