By Susan Harley, Michigan Policy Director
Who says “yes, please, toxic pollution is just the thing I’d like to breathe”? No one. Except, apparently, for Big Coal. Their lobbyists are saying (and telling Congress) that the EPA shouldn’t be able to do its job and protect us from toxic air pollution like mercury.
Today’s the day to do something about it. Literally. Today is the last day to submit comments to make sure that the EPA stands tough and moves forward with the strongest possible protections from air toxics!
The EPA has already heard from over 800,000 concerned Americans supporting their move to finally put a limit on the amount of toxic air pollution like mercury that can be released from power plants. People like anglers and mothers have spoken out in the press and at the EPA hearings across the country; they are standing up for strong health protections from air toxics.
I had the opportunity to speak on behalf of Clean Water Action’s members at the Chicago hearing. As good as it felt for me to thank the EPA for protecting our Great Lakes from pollution from power plants, I think I most enjoyed displaying the beautiful fish petitions that we had children color at several Earth Day events. When I was at those events, speaking to families across the state about coal plants and the harm they cause to our health and our environment, it was so moving to see how excited kids were to take action to help keep fish safe from toxic air pollution.
I also had copies of the Michigan fish advisory that warns against mercury contamination in all of the Great Lakes as well as in all of our inland lakes and streams at these events. People who just happened to stop by the table because their child wanted to color would pick it up and go from mildly bored to shocked to furious in a matter of minutes.
Furious. That’s pretty much everyone’s reaction when they find out what a potent pollutant like mercury can do to a person. Especially a very small person: a tiny baby in the womb or a child that’s being fed breast milk– the most vulnerable among us.
EPA is sure to be faced with intense and unwavering opposition from Big Coal. It happens anytime a rule might reduce their shareholder dividends for the sake of keeping people safe from pollution. (Forget the fact that it would be the fiscally conservative thing to do to have society avoid paying for all of those emergency room visits for things like asthma triggered by the pollution that’s coming out of their smokestacks.)
But, by acting together, we can have a louder voice!
There’s still time to take action to support the EPA’s move to set these much needed public health protections.
No more procrastinating! For YOU to take action, for the EPA to write strong rules, or for the utilities to move away from dirty power to clean sources of energy that will bring good-paying, sustainable jobs to states like mine that really need them.
The next generation thanks you!