Standards will improve health by reducing pollution from coal-fired power plants

MADISON — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled new standards for mercury and other toxic air pollutants today that will reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants, reduce mercury pollution coming into Wisconsin from other states, and improve the health of people across the nation.

“Mercury and other dangerous toxins threaten the health of our nation’s residents, especially our most vulnerable citizens, children and the unborn,” said Elizabeth Wheeler, staff attorney at Clean Wisconsin. “Every year, thousands of children suffer the negative health consequences of mercury pollution. This is simply unacceptable and these new standards are welcome.”
 
Clean Wisconsin led the effort to adopt Wisconsin’s landmark law in 2008 that requires coal-fired power plants to reduce mercury pollution by 90 percent by 2015.  The standards released today will ensure that plants upwind face the same limits on mercury pollution as Wisconsin plants. The standards will require electric utilities to clean up or close down the nation’s dirtiest coal-fired power plants, the largest sources of mercury pollution.
 
“Wisconsin has long been a leader in reducing mercury pollution,” said Wheeler. “The new standards unveiled today are a win for Wisconsin that will help clean our environment and improve the health of our residents by reducing toxic mercury pollution coming into Wisconsin from neighboring states.”
 
Chronic exposure to mercury results in memory loss, speech difficulties, troubles with vision, and cardiovascular problems in adults. Children and the unborn exposed to mercury can face neurological damage that impairs development, leads to low intelligence, and inhibits school performance.
 
“We estimate that between 5,000 and 9,000 children born in Wisconsin every year are at risk of having lower IQs and reduced memory as a result,” said Wheeler. “We applaud the EPA for setting strong, national standards that will help reduce mercury pollution and improve the quality of life for our children.”