League Victory To Protect Americans from Hazardous Emissions
Mar 21, 2011 Posted by Dawn Merritt
By Nancy Lange, IWLA Acting Energy Program Director
Last Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the most important actions to clean up air pollution from dirty coal-burning power plants since the Clean Air Act was last updated in 1990. For more than a decade, it has been a goal of Izaak Walton League members and staff to reduce the most toxic air pollutants that are emitted from our nation's coal-fired power plants.
EPA’s proposed mercury and air toxics standards for power plants that burn coal and oil are projected to
- Save as many as 17,000 American lives every year by 2015
- Prevent up to 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms every year
- Prevents 11,000 cases of acute bronchitis among children every year
- Prevent 12,000 emergency room and hospital visits every year
- Save 850,000 lost work days every year
The proposed standards should reduce mercury emissions from power plants burning coal and oil by 91 percent, acid gas pollution by 91 percent, direct particulate matter (PM) emissions by 30 percent, and sulfur dioxide emissions by 53 percent. These reductions will not only save human lives, they will prevent serious risk to fish and wildlife too. For example, mercury exposure causes significant damage to waterfowl and mammals that eat contaminated fish, including reproductive problems and neurological damage.
In Minnesota, the League was instrumental in crafting state policy that requires the state's largest power plants to reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent. As utilities implement this law, they are finding that these reductions can be achieved in a cost-effective manner with existing technologies. Only a portion of the mercury emitted in Minnesota is deposited here; a large percentage travels to other states and regions. These new rules will level the playing field across all utilities and result in nationwide reductions that will lower mercury levels in Minnesota waters and fish.
We will reach out to Izaak Walton League members in the coming months for your support of this EPA standard. This regulation is a decade overdue. (For more information, read the League's March 16 press release.)
– Nancy Lange, IWLA Acting Energy Program Director