EPA mercury rules essential for health
Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 15:01
Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would be determined to reduce the harmful amounts of mercury, arsenic and air toxins from power plant pollution.
These regulations on mercury pollution are essential, as they will help improve the health of all Americans. They have been in the works for more than 20 years, and it's about time that they will be put in place.
This will be especially good for Floridians like you and me, as our intake of mercury and toxic pollution has been dangerously high.
In 2009, Florida's electric sector ranked third in the nation for toxic air pollution, with the emission of 33.4 million pounds of harmful chemicals released into the atmosphere — that's far from clean air. Additionally, Florida's mercury pollution alone accounts for 2 percent of the entire nation's mercury pollution output, according to a 2011 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Lastly, Florida ranks No. 18 among all states in mercury air pollution from power plants. With these facts in mind, it's not surprising to learn that only three of Florida's nine power plants have attempted to control their mercury pollution output.
Regulations such as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, the reclassification of coal ash and emissions control technology will significantly help Florida and other states in their newfound quest to cut down mercury and toxic air pollutions from power plants. These regulations will save $90 billion every year, compared to the $10 billion that it will take to implement these changes.
Opponents and critics of the EPA have denounced these regulations, stating that the result of these regulations would clog up the power grids, causing blackouts during the upcoming 2012 elections. However, many of the rules from these regulations won't be put into effect that soon. In fact, it's probable that most of the technology that's used to prevent mercury emissions won't even be installed until after the elections, as all power plants have four years to comply with the standards, according to EPA.gov.
As another unfortunate result of this bill, electricity prices will be slightly raised when these new rules and regulations go into effect. However, I would rather pay a slightly higher price for electricity rather than contract serious health problems from the mercury pumping out of Florida's power plants.
Currently, 50 percent of America's lakes contain fish with unsafe levels of mercury, which in turn increases the mercury intake by humans, according to a fact sheet at my.BarackObama.com. Furthermore, every state in the United States has had water under mercury advisories in 2011. These amounting levels of mercury affect unborn and newborn children. In fact, 300,000 newborn children are exposed to unsafe levels of mercury in the womb, which could increase their chances of developing a learning or developmental disability later on in life. High levels of mercury pollution do not only affect children; mercury can trigger heart attacks for adults, and lifelong diseases such as asthma can develop as well.
The EPA's new regulations on mercury and air toxins in pollution will help alleviate many of these problems. About 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, 130,000 asthma attacks, as well as thousands of other illnesses and deaths, will be prevented every year, according to my.BarackObama.com. These changes in the way that we control our pollution output will not only benefit and improve the health of every American, but it will do so for future generations as well.
The EPA's new standards for mercury and air toxin pollution are essential for the well-being and health of every American. Now, we will have one less thing to worry about when we breathe in what we can now call "fresh air."