Success! EPA Announces New Protection From Mercury Pollution

The Obama administration gave the American people an early Christmas present when the EPA announced new protections from mercury pollution from power plants on Wednesday, December 21, 2011. Considering that power plants are the largest source of mercury emissions to the air in the U.S., totaling about 50 percent, this is good news. Coal-fired plants, in particular, release more than 33 tons of mercury into the air and water every year, according to the Sierra Club. The new rules will reduce mercury pollution from power plants by over 90 percent, the Sierra Club estimates.

The new rule will also reduce emissions from arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases, including hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid. The EPA estimates that power plants are responsible for 77 percent of acid gas emissions, and are the leading source of emissions of arsenic, nickel and chromium.

Although some power plants already meet the standards in the rule, about 40 percent of coal-fired units covered by the rule do not meet the new standards. The EPA estimates that there about 1,400 power plants, 1,100 coal-fired units and 300 oil-fired units, affected by the rule.

The health benefits of the rule include avoiding 4,200 to 11,000 premature deaths by 2016. The rule will also avoid (by 2016):

  • 2,800 cases of chronic bronchitis
  • 4,700 heart attacks
  • 130,000 cases of aggravated asthma
  • 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits
  • 6,300 cases of acute bronchitis
  • 140,000 cases of respiratory symptoms
  • 540,000 days when people miss work
  • 3.2 million days when people must restrict their activities

Although it will cost an estimated $9.6 billion to meet the rule, the health benefits associated with meeting the standards are $37 billion to $90 billion in 2016.

The Sierra Club’s Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement that the rule means that in the U.S. “we now have strong nationwide protections against toxic mercury.” Brune added that over 800,000 public comments “were filed in support of the protection.”

There were also more than 58,000 Care2 members who signed the petition and made this happen.

Kudos to the Obama administration for listening to the 800,000 Americans, including many of who, who filed public comments and signed the petition in support of the rule which will make our air and water cleaner. If you want to send congratulations to the Obama administration, sign the petition titled Thank President Obama for Standing Strong on Mercury Pollution.

Thanks to our Care2 members for making a difference!

Photo credits: Flickr user, lowjumpingfrog

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Anna M.
Anna M.2 years ago

Chief Seattle, 1854
Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.

Lynn D.
Lynn D.2 years ago

Interesting........hope it works,thanks!

Ruth R.
Ruth R.3 years ago

This is nice news. Maybe there will be more nice news and this one piece of news will last.

Hannah L.
Hannah L.3 years ago


Erin Coz
Erin Cozart3 years ago

This is fantastic! We should never give up on tightening environmental standards because CHANGE CAN HAPPEN!!

Chiara C.
Chiara C.3 years ago

Hope it will last...

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for the information.

Walter Askins
Walter Askins3 years ago

I am ranting again

Walter Askins
Walter Askins3 years ago

The Air quality Today is far better than the 60's. There has been a massive reduction in pollution since then. To get to zero (which would be nice) with current tech we would no longer be building anything. Our economy would cease to exist, for that matter most of our livestock would have to be put down along with a large segment of the population (as indicated the the last durban climate talks in order to reach CO2 goal). Right now carbon taxes have been put on the back burner, but if carbon taxes and restrictions go through we will not be heating our houses. Look at what is happening in Australia. There cows can't fart or belch without being taxed. This whole propaganda campaign is not really about pollution per say it is about CO2. People like al gore, obama soros goldmen sachs and may others stand to make billions at our expense through carbon exchanges which they set up. Most people would say that that is ok because CO2 is a threat and if we charge larger amounts for energy we will find other sources. Then why are other energies not funded or given huge amounts of money to replace the status quo. A Great example is the E-Cat. This is a cold fusion plant. Yes this does exist, yes it does work. The inventor finally went commercial this fall. He had to sell his house to do so. 12 1 megawatt unites have been sold (presumably to the us gov to heat remote camps), 10000 orders for the home unit have been place with the inventor. Why did it take so long for t

Walter Askins
Walter Askins3 years ago

Get ready for rolling blackouts. If you look at what they are putting in the vaccines (recumbent DNA, aluminum, mercury cancer Viruses sterilants (as Bill Gates said) Polysorbate 80 ETC...)Asthma is probably one of the side effects.