Washington, D.C., June 19, 2012 – The American Public Health Association is calling on the U.S. Senate to reject a resolution under consideration tomorrow that would dismantle life-saving standards to protect the public from mercury and toxic air pollution.
The measure, S.J. 37, proposed by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), would block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which set long-overdue limits on the emissions of hazardous air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants.
“Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that strong pollution control standards protect millions of American children and adults at risk of asthma, heart attacks, stroke and premature death,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “APHA strongly urges the Senate to vote NO on tomorrow’s resolution to eliminate these important safeguards. It undermines public health and should be swiftly defeated.”
Far too many Americans, particularly those in minority, low-income and marginalized communities, are being threatened by poor air quality every day. Power plants are the largest emitters of many toxic air pollutants, including mercury, arsenic and acid gases, and emit more than 80 of the 187 hazardous pollutants identified for control by the Clean Air Act.
EPA estimates that reducing the emissions of these toxic air pollutants will prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, 130,000 asthma attacks and 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits every year.
“Sen. Inhofe’s resolution would take a serious step backwards in our efforts to clean up the air we breathe and help all Americans live healthier, more productive lives,” said Benjamin.
The White House has indicated that if this resolution were to reach the president’s desk he would be advised to veto it.