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For Immediate Release, December 21, 2011

Contact: Kassie Siegel, (760) 366-2232 x 302

New Clean Air Act Protections Tackle Deadly Mercury Pollution from Dirty Power Plants

WASHINGTON— U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson today announced the first-ever Clean Air Act rules to reduce dangerous mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollutants from power plants. The agency projects that the new safeguards will prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 cases of childhood asthma each year. The pollutants have also been found to cause neurological damage and cancer, as well as harm our nation’s lakes, streams and fish. The EPA predicts that the new rules will cut mercury emissions by 90 percent. 

“Today’s announcement reminds us all that the Clean Air Act works to protect the air we breathe and save lives,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “Blocking or delaying these rules will lead directly to increased premature deaths, more heart attacks and increased childhood asthma and developmental delays — how could any decent person support that?”

Since the proposed standards were announced in March, the coal industry has vigorously pressured the EPA to relax clean-air safeguards. House Republicans have already passed legislation to delay the mercury rule and loosen its requirements. And Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has promised to introduce legislation to undo the rule following today’s announcement. 

“Playing politics with public health is morally indefensible,” said Siegel. “This common-sense rule has been 20 years in the making and will result in real benefits for our health and environment. There’s no excuse for further delay.”

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