You know how with some songs you can’t get the lyrics out of your head? That’s what I’m doing right now. Every time I read another breaking news story on clean air I hear, “All that I need is the air that I breathe/And to love you.” (Sorry if now you’re doing it, too.)
But it’s true, right? There’s not a lot more important to parents than loving their children and making sure they have clean air to breathe. Which is why this week’s virtual deluge of clean air information is so important—and scary.
First up? The positive. Americans submitted more than 800,000 comments in support of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, a new Environmental Protection Agency ruling that would be the first-ever national policy to regulate mercury emissions from coal-fired plants.
Mercury is a problem because it can affect the human nervous system—especially in babies and young children—potentially damaging vision, coordination and speech, among other things.
Coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of mercury pollution, and account for 25 percent of all toxic metal emissions in the U.S., according to the National Wildlife Federation.
Now, the EPA is required to rule on the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards by November 16th and polluters will have three years from that date to reduce their pollution.
Meanwhile, last week electric utilities announced the closure of dozens of coal-fired power plants in response to the EPA’s new Clean Air Interstate Rule regulations, which regulate the thousands of tons of pollutants that drift across state borders, according to Business Insider.
Get ready for the negative.
According to the New York Times, Republican presidential candidates like Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney have all publically stated that they’re in favor of reducing environmental regulations that, they say, inhibit job growth. Michele Bachman went so far as to call the EPA the “job-killing organization of America,” a sentiment that’s seconded by Newt Gingrich.
While the EPA predicts that the costs of power plant closures like those in response to the Clean Air Interstate Rule will save us $280 billion in health benefits by 2014—including the prevention of up to 34,000 premature deaths, 26,000 hospital and emergency room visits and 240,000 cases of aggravated asthma—the coal industry maintains electric rates will go up by as much as 23 percent and lead to the loss of 1.4 million jobs by 2020.
And while the Office of Management and Budget is referenced on The Hill’s Congress Blog as recording $551 in economic benefits generated by the EPA—as opposed to the $29 billion it costs in compliance—funding for that organization is now in jeopardy.
Similarly, while the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Clean Air Ticker calculates the total value of benefits provided to Americans by the Clean Air Act at $50 trillion, the Moms Clean Air Force warns that lobbyists are now working overtime to delay or alter the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards ruling—and even undermine the 40-year-old Clean Air Act itself.
Which means that getting all that we need may now take much more than love. Please stand up for clean air. Join Healthy Child Healthy World in telling Congress that their support of the EPA and their new coal plant regulations is vital to our children’s health.