Win for environmental, human health: Standards for mercury, air toxics advance

Removing such toxic substances as mercury and others from power-plant-produced emissions, specifically those that result via the burning of fossil fuels, has long been the mission of a cadre of various groups, individuals and organizations; not only here in America but around the world.

Coal_bituminous[1]Well, now this is mission accomplished, at least in the U.S. “Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected a bid by the coal mining industry and its allies to throw out the first-ever national limits on mercury and other toxic air pollution spewed by power plants,” Earthjustice in its Dec. 15, 2015 “Health Wins: Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Move Forward” press release expressed. “The Court’s decision on the Environmental Protection Agency’s [EPA] Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will save thousands of lives, and avert long term environmental and public health damage.”

Earthjustice, an organization that fights to protect the environment and public health, went on in the release to declare that in America, for every 20 human deaths, one is air-pollution attributed. One source, as brought to bear in “America’s air: In a state of unhealthy repair?” has gone so far as to suggest based on study findings that in this country, the number of per-year early deaths on account of polluted air may be as high as 200,000.

“This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court remanded these standards to the appeals court,” Earthjustice so-noted, as borne out in the release, going on to state that, “[a]lthough [the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] demonstrated that the health and environmental benefits of the standards far outweigh the costs to the industry, the Supreme Court found EPA should have considered industry’s costs at a different stage of the regulatory process.”

Subsequent to that judgment, “the National Mining Association and other parties linked to coal-mining interests,” requested the appeals court reject the standards. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Clean Air Council, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Sierra Club, in this regard all represented by Earthjustice, objected, arguing that the standards remain in force.

And, added Earthjustice: “The EPA has already begun the process to consider costs in accordance with the Supreme Court decision, and predicts it will complete that step next April.”

Despite it taking 20 years’ time to achieve this outcome, not only can Earthjustice and the organizations it represented in this regard declare, in Earthjustice’s words, “Victory!” but for environmental and human health, indeed a win-win this is likewise!

Published by Alan Kandel