Romney Opposes a Mercury Pollution Rule that will Protect Public Health
Today, the Senate rejected a GOP-sponsored measure to nullify environmental standards that are aimed at protecting Americans from potentially fatal exposure to mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants. The Romney campaign has made it clear that Mitt Romney opposes such standards. While it may be politically convenient to criticize the EPA, these mercury standards will save thousands of lives—will Romney take a stand for public health or continue with political attacks?
Here’s why Romney’s opposition to this rule would jeopardize public health as well as investments in building a clean energy economy.
Blocking these standards would represent a major step backwards for public health and the environment.
The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are the first national standards to protect American families from power plant emissions of mercury and toxic air pollution like arsenic and acid gases that can cause cancer, heart disease, asthma, and even premature death. Additionally, mercury and other toxic pollution in our nation’s lakes, streams, and air can cause damage to developing nervous systems and impair children’s ability to think and learn.
Without these standards, many power plants—the United States’ largest remaining source of these toxic air pollutants—will keep pumping pollutants like mercury and toxic metals into the air—even though the technology to stop this pollution is widely available and in use at more than half of the nation’s power plants already. The consequences for public health would be severe.
Starting in 2016, these standards are expected to save thousands of lives a year and provide significant health benefits, including:
4,200 to 11,000 additional premature deaths;
4,700 heart attacks;
130,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms;
6,300 cases of acute bronchitis among children;
5,700 emergency room visits and hospital admissions;
540,000 days of missed work due to respiratory illness.
These standards will drive investments in American-made pollution control technology and create jobs.
The mercury rule is expected to support tens of thousands of jobs building, installing, and operating the equipment needed to reduce harmful air pollution. In fact, the United States is the largest producer of environmental protection technologies in the world and orders are already being placed for pollution control technology to improve the performance of our nation’s power plants. Even industry stakeholders have noted that the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards set achievable limits and that industry is well positioned to comply.
In addition to the three years that plants will have to meet the standards, President Obama has directed the EPA to grant an additional year as needed for companies to install pollution controls—providing the industry with ample time and flexibility.
President Obama understands that we grow our economy while protecting our air and water, and history proves that. Since the Clean Air Act was enacted more than 40 years ago, our nation’s economy has more than tripled. Meanwhile emissions of key pollutants have decreased 63 percent. More than 40 years of clean air regulation has shown that a strong economy and strong environmental and public health protection go hand-in-hand. Likewise, the mercury and air toxics standards will have huge economic benefits, resulting in as much as $90 billion in estimated health benefits.
President Obama’s clean air standards show that Americans don’t have to choose between clean air and a growing economy. Will Romney continue to oppose these life-saving standards or will he recognize that, when it comes to Americans’ health and safety, political attacks aren’t worth it?
"I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them."
Adlai Stevenson 09/09/1952