But despite a partial government shutdown last week, Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced that EPA would begin to undo the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
The last eight years the mercury battle raged. Coal plant owners fought any kind of restrictions on their ability to release mercury, arsenic, acid gases, heavy metals — all terrible poisons — into our air. They claimed it would cost too much to scrub their stacks, and that it would make electric prices go up.
Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin. It disrupts the developing architecture of the fetal brain — and harms the brains of toddlers, and adults, as well. When a coal plant has no mercury controls, tiny particles of the heavy metal come billowing out of its smokestacks and travel into lakes and oceans, where fish can become contaminated with the dangerous toxin. People who eat that fish — and, especially, the babies of pregnant women who eat that fish — can be exposed to harmful levels of mercury.
Well, the rules finally passed. And guess what? Utilities invested in the technology to clean their stacks, and it cost far less than they claimed. Electricity prices did not skyrocket. And the rules worked. Atlantic fish has far less mercury in it. Pacific fish, sadly, still is contaminated by the coal pollution from plants in China and India.
Robert Murray, a coal baron, and advisor to President Trump, gave the administration his wish list of rollbacks. It included attacking, undermining, and weakening the lifesaving mercury rule, despite its broad health benefits. So EPA announced that it will attack the very foundation of the rule — claiming that, as a result of their latest, extremely limited accounting of the costs and benefits of the rule, it turns out that the rule is not actually "appropriate and necessary— a legal yardstick under the Clean Air Act.
Call Acting EPA Administrator, (202) 564-4700, Andrew Wheeler, to demand he keep these standards in place. Or, follow this link for more actions.