Tag Archives: Acid Gases

6/15/2011 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: US EPA Administrator Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 6/15/2011 US EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works CONTACT: EPA Press Office press@epa.gov 202-564-6794 Madam Chairman, thank you for inviting me to testify about EPA’s ongoing efforts to protect our health by reducing the air pollution that affects millions of Americans. I know this subject very personally because my son is one of the more than 25 million Americans battling asthma. Let me begin my testimony with a matter of fact: pollution, such as mercury and particulate matter, shortens and reduces the quality of Americans’ lives and puts at risk the health and development of future generations. We know mercury is a toxin that causes neurological damage to adults, children and developing fetuses. We know mercury causes neurological damage, including lost IQ point in children. And we know particulate matter can lead to respiratory disease, decreased lung function and even pre-mature death. These pollutants – and others including arsenic, chromium and acid gases –come from power plants. These are simple facts that should not be up for debate.

However, Madam Chairman, while Americans across the country suffer from this pollution, special interests who are trying to gut long-standing public health protections are now going so far as to claim that these pollutants aren’t even harmful. These myths are being perpetrated by some of the same lobbyists who have in the past testified before Congress about the importance of reducing mercury and particulate matter. Now on behalf of their clients, they’re saying the exact opposite.

The good news is that to address this pollution problem, in 1970 Congress passed the Clean Air Act – which was signed into law by a Republican President, and then strengthened in 1990 under another Republican Administration.

Last year alone, the Clean Air Act is estimated to have saved 160,000 lives and prevented more than 100,000 hospital visits. Simply put, protecting public health and the environment should not be – and historically has not been – a partisan issue.

Despite all the distractions, let me assure you that EPA will continue to base all of our public health protections on two key principles: the law and the best science. Allow me to focus on two current activities.

On March 16, after 20 years in the making, EPA proposed the first ever national standards for mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants. While many power plants already comply, the standards will level the playing field by requiring additional power plants to install widely-available, proven pollution control technologies.

Deployment of these technologies will prevent an estimated:

17,000 premature deaths
11,000 heart attacks
120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms
11,000 cases of acute bronchitis among children
12,000 emergency room visits and hospital admissions
850,000 days of work missed due to illness

This proposed rule, which is going through a public comment process, is the product of significant outreach to industry and other stakeholders.

As we work at EPA to cut down on mercury and other toxins from power plants, we’re also trying to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide through the “Clean Air Transport Rule” we proposed last year.

This rule requires 31 states and the District of Columbia to reduce their emissions of these two pollutants – which contribute to ozone and fine particle pollution across state lines – thereby significantly improving air quality in cities across the U.S. Utilities can achieve these reductions by investing in widely-available technology.

Once finalized, this rule will result in more than $120 billion in health benefits each year. EPA estimates this rule will protect public health by avoiding:

14,000 to 36,000 premature death

· 21,000 cases of acute bronchitis

· 23,000 nonfatal heart attacks

240,000 cases of aggravated asthma
440,000 cases of upper and lower respiratory symptoms
26,000 hospital and emergency room visits

· 1.9 million days of work or school missed due to illness

These numbers represent a major improvement in the quality of life for literally millions of people throughout the country – especially working families, children and older Americans.

While some argue that public health protections are too costly, history has repeatedly shown that we can clean up pollution, create jobs and grow our economy all at the same time.

Over the 40 years since the Clean Air Act was passed, the U.S. Gross Domestic Product grew more than 200 percent. In fact, some economic analysis suggests that the economy is billions of dollars larger today than it would have been without the Act.

Simply put, the Clean Air Act saves lives and strengthens the American workforce. As a result, the economic value of clean air far exceeds the costs. Expressed in dollar terms, the benefits of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 alone are projected to reach approximately $2 trillion in 2020, with an estimated cost of $65 billion in that same year – a benefit to cost ratio of more than 30 to 1.

With legislation pending in Congress to weaken and gut this proven public health protection law, I urge this committee to stand up for the hundreds of millions of Americans who are directly or indirectly affected by air pollution.

I look forward to your questions.

R203

Note: If a link above doesn’t work, please copy and paste the URL into a browser.

View all news releases related to air issues

5/31/2011 NRDC Would You Like Cancer-causing or Brain-poisoning Pollution With That Electricity?

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) Staff Blog by Pete Altman: Hundreds of people have said no to toxic pollution from power plants near them by attending U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearings. The last one is today in Atlanta — if you can’t make it, support the EPA’s proposals to make power companies cut the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, acid gases & other nasty stuff they release into the air by TAKING ACTION: http://b/ Next time you flip on the light switch, how would you respond if a little voice asked you “Thanks for your order. Would you like cancer with your electricity? How about some brain-poison?” Weird question, right? Unfortunately, power companies are one of the biggest toxic polluters in the US, dumping millions of pounds of cancer-causing, brain-poisoning toxins like arsenic and mercury into the air each year. The toxins are found in the coal that is burned to supply about ½ of our nation’s electricity.

This week, hundreds of people have shown up to hearings in Philadelphia and Chicago organized by the US Environmental Protection Agency to say “no thanks” to toxic pollution from power plants, and support the EPA’s proposals to make power companies reduce the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, acid gases and other nasty stuff they release into the air.

(To let the EPA know you support reducing toxic pollution from power plants, take action here.)

As the Associated Press explained,

Several hundred people, from environmentalists and physicians to mothers and fishermen, testified before a panel of federal environmental officials on Tuesday to urge the passage of proposed new standards to limit the amount of air pollution that coal-fired power plants can release into the atmosphere.”

One those physicians was Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt, medical director of the poison control center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who said

Young children are uniquely vulnerable to the toxic effects of environmental poisons such as mercury and arsenic. These compounds are especially dangerous to the developing brain and nervous system.

Some of the speakers pulled no punches. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported,

Rabbi Daniel Swartz leaned toward the microphone at Tuesday’s hearing on proposed federal rules to limit mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

By allowing emissions to continue, “we have, in effect, subsidized the poisoning of fetuses and children,” the Scranton rabbi said.

In Chicago, a similar scene unfolded, as the Chicago Tribune reported, with supporters of limiting toxic air pollution coming out in force, as noted by Chicago radio station WBEZ:

Midwesterners who testified at a public hearing in Chicago Tuesday afternoon were overwhelmingly in favor of the proposed EPA plan.”

One of those speaking in Chicago was NRDC’s Shannon Fisk, who focused on the critical need for EPA to act swiftly to reduce toxic pollution, saying,

[Some] in industry are pushing EPA to delay …my question to these agents of delay is how much is enough. How many lives are they willing to sacrifice in order to have even more time to install pollution controls that have been available for decades?”

Polling shows that throughout the nation, Americans strongly support reducing toxic air pollution from industrials sources. A February 2011 survey by Public Policy Polling revealed that 66% of Americans support “requiring stricter limits on the amount of toxic chemicals such as mercury lead and arsenic that coal power plants and other industrial facilities release.”

The EPA’s final hearing on the toxics rules is in Atlanta today. But going to a hearing isn’t the only way for concerned citizens to weigh in.

If you’d like to say “no thanks” to cancer-causing and brain-poisoning toxins from power plants, send a comment directly to the EPA in support of the toxics proposals by using our quick and easy action page.

5/31/2011 Please Tell US EPA to Protect Our Health from Toxic Pollutants

Join me in supporting this cause! Petition: Protect Our Health from Toxic Pollutants Click the play button to sign this petition. Dear Administrator Jackson, Every year, power plants release more than 386,000 tons of toxic air pollutants into the air we breathe. These emissions — which aren’t subject to any federal limits to protect our health and safety — impose a heavy burden on Americans in the form of cancer, heart and lung disease, and thousands of premature deaths every year. The technology to reduce these costly emissions is available and affordable, and I strongly support the EPA’s Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which will make our air safer to breathe by requiring that power plants use these proven methods of pollution control to limit their harmful emissions. [Your comments will be inserted here.] In the coming months, I urge you to resist any efforts to weaken or delay your recent proposal to limit power plants’ emissions of mercury, lead, arsenic, dioxin, acid gases and other toxic pollutants. The power plant industry has already used its financial and political influence to avoid these important health protections for more than two decades. We cannot wait any longer.

Power plants pump more mercury into our air than all other big industrial polluters combined. Mercury pollution damages aquatic ecosystems and contaminates fish species that many Americans rely on for recreation and nourishment. Pregnant women and young children are most at risk: mercury exposure can lead to birth defects and learning disabilities and can also irreparably impact a young child’s ability to talk, think, read, write and learn. It is critically important that we protect these vulnerable members of our society from harm.

The Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will prevent up to 17,000 premature deaths every year and spare many more Americans the physical and financial costs associated with illnesses brought on by breathing dirty air. These benefits to our society should be non-negotiable, considering especially that they outweigh the costs to polluters by as much as 13-to-1.

Thank you for taking this long-overdue step to protect our right to breathe clean air.

Sincerely,
[Your name here]