Activists delivered more than 630,000 comments to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s regional office in Boston today to support the agency’s draft rules to significantly curb mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants.
The agency is expected to finalize new mercury rules by mid-November that would cut emissions of the toxic metal from coal-fired plants by 91 percent, as well as cut other toxic pollution. The letters were delivered by a coalition of more than 200 health, environmental, and social justice organizations.
Mercury is considered one of the most poisonous emissions from power plants, because it can damage the developing brains of fetuses and children. Power plants discharge the metal into the air, and the pollutant can travel thousands of miles before settling to the ground and being washed into lakes and streams. In the Northeast, pregnant woman and children are urged not to eat fish from scores of lakes and ponds because mercury can build up in the animals' flesh.
Coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of mercury pollution, arsenic, and acidic gases, and account for 25 percent of all toxic metal emissions in the United States.
"This tremendous response signals that Americans know how important it is to cut down on mercury, arsenic and other dangerous pollutants in the air we breathe," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency's Region 1 office in Boston, in a statement.
Opponents say the rules will cost industry billions to comply.
More than 200 organizations have lobbied the EPA to ensure that the proposed mercury safeguards remain strong enough to protect the health of children and mothers. Some of the national organizations that organized the letter campaign are the Alliance for Climate Protection, Democracia, Inc, Environment America, Environment Defense Fund, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, Interfaith Power and Light, League of Women Voters, League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation, Physicians for Social Responsibility, The Sierra Club, and U.S. Climate Action Network.
About the green blog
Helping Boston live a greener, more environmentally friendly life.
Christopher Reidy covers business for the Globe.
Doug Struck covers environmental issues from Boston.
Glenn Yoder produces Boston.com's Lifestyle pages.
Eric Bauer is site architect of Boston.com.
Bennie DiNardo is the Boston Globe's deputy managing editor/multimedia.
Dara Olmsted is a local sustainability professional focusing on green living.