Environment America and U.S. PIRG experts testify on Mercury and Air Toxics Standards

Media Contacts
Kara Cook-Schultz


The Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing today on its Proposed Revised Supplemental Finding for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and Results of the Residual Risk and Technology Review.

The EPA is proposing rollbacks to the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, even though most industrial plants have already adopted the necessary technology under the regulation–meaning that even industry wants to keep the rule. This shift would also change how the agency uses cost benefit analysis.

Andrea McGimsey,  senior director of the Global Warming Solutions Campaign for Environment America, and Ethan Lutz of U.S. Public Interest Research Group both testified at the hearing.

McGimsey said the following:

“We are faced with the prospect of actually moving backwards in basic protections of the environment and public health. As environmental advocates, we vigorously protest these assaults on the environment that adversely impact fish, other wildlife and humans.

I am a native of Virginia, and I am a former member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. The coal-fired Dickerson Power Plant is located on the Maryland shore of the Potomac River, right across from our fast-growing county with over 400,000 residents. All of the residents of our county live within the 50 mile airshed of this power plant, and the discharges that go into the Potomac River are upstream from the drinking water intakes for much of Northern Virginia.

I am concerned about the direct consequences the EPA policy shift would have on Northern Virginia’s environment and public health, as well as the Chesapeake Bay, which is vulnerable to pollution from multiple coal-fired power plants located in other parts of the country. These emissions adversely impact air quality, pollute surface water and contaminate fish.

As the downwind recipient of the pollution EPA intends to allow into the air, the people of Virginia and states across the U.S. collectively say that the value of protecting our environment and our health is far greater than paying back coal burning energy companies. It is not even a close call.”

Lutz testified:

“From 2011 to 2017, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards regulations were responsible for an 81 percent reduction in mercury emissions alone. In addition to mercury, coal-fired power plants also release highly toxic substances such as fine particulate matter, arsenic, lead, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen fluoride, selenium, cadmium and chromium. Many of these substances are known to be carcinogenic and harmful to humans and animals, yet EPA is not considering the cost to human life from these substances under its proposed rule.

These substances contaminate fish, which humans then eat. By getting rid of this rule, EPA would destroy up to $90 Billion in yearly cost benefits, kill 17,000 people per year, and make thousands others sick from air pollution. This is a public health disaster, and the opposite of what the EPA stands for.”