EPA’s weakening of mercury emission standards threaten public health, Great Lakes

LANSING – Sporting, health and conservation groups today voiced their strong concerns regarding the weakening of the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards – opening the door for increased mercury and other dangerous pollution in our air and water, which could exacerbate the effects of COVID-19.

The Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) is a rule that regulates emissions of mercury and other dangerous air pollutants from coal and oil-fired power plants. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency changed how the benefits of mercury emission standards are calculated so that the economic cost takes precedence over public health gains.

“The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards were put in place as safeguards to protect the health of families, seniors and children from mercury and harmful pollutants produced by coal-fired plants,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “We urge the Trump Administration to abandon this ill-conceived and irresponsible plan and consider the public health consequences and the consequences on our Great Lakes before rolling back this important protection.”

“Fishing is a $2.3 billion industry in Michigan and the rollback of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards is a direct threat to our beautiful Great Lakes,” said Dennis Eade, executive director of the Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen’s Association. “An increase in mercury and other harmful pollutants in our air and water will have a devastating effect on human health, tourism, businesses and our state’s economy.”

“This rollback runs counter to centuries of scientific consensus on the health and environmental hazards of mercury,” said Mike Shriberg, Great Lakes regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation. “The harmful effects of mercury on people and wildlife are well documented. Attacking federal mercury pollution safeguards has severe health impacts for Americans – particularly communities of color, who are already more likely to be exposed to higher rates of dangerous air pollution.”

“As a registered nurse, I see firsthand how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted patients with underlying conditions – such as asthma, and chronic heart and lung conditions,” said Kindra Weid, coalition coordinator of MI Air MI Health. “Relaxing the enforcement of regulations on mercury and other pollutants in the middle of a global pandemic is irresponsible and will have a dire impact on public health.”


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