Center for Biological Diversity * Earthjustice * Environment America * Environmental Defense Fund * League of Conservation Voters * League of Women Voters * Natural Resources Defense Council * Physicians for Social Responsibility * Sierra Club * Southern Environmental Law Center * U.S. Climate Action Network

February 17, 2012

Dear Senator,

On behalf of our millions of members, activists, and supporters we urge you to oppose S.J. Res.37, the Congressional Review Act disapproval resolution sponsored by Senator Inhofe that would eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) life-saving Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants. This resolution further would block the agency from reissuing similar safeguards to protect the public from power plants’ mercury and toxic air pollution. This resolution puts the health of our children and families at risk and threatens the quality of our air and water.

Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that harms the developing brains and nervous systems of children and fetuses. Exposure to mercury in the early years of development results in increases in mental retardation and loss of IQ. Power plants that burn coal and oil are the largest industrial sources of mercury emissions in the U.S. and after years of delay, the EPA has finally taken action to curb this dangerous pollutant.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for the first time set national limits not only on mercury but also on air toxins including arsenic, lead, acid gases and dozens of others from power plants that burn coal and oil.  Children are especially vulnerable to their harmful effects, as children’s ongoing lung development and outdoor activity levels make children more susceptible to harm from airborne pollutants.

Starting in 2016, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards each year will prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, nearly 5,000 heart attacks, 130,000 asthma attacks, 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits, and 540,000 days when people miss work and school. These standards will put Americans back to work cleaning up dangerous pollution; EPA estimates that the standards will create approximately 46,000 short-term construction jobs and 8,000 long-term jobs in the utility sector. At the same time, these standards will save the economy billions of dollars in health care costs. They have annual estimated benefits of $37 to $90 billion, compared to only $9.6 billion in compliance costs – meaning that for every dollar spent to reduce pollution, Americans get $3-9 dollars back in health benefits.

Not only would Senator Inhofe’s resolution undo all of the health and economic benefits of these safeguards, it would also bar EPA from issuing any standards in the future that are substantially similar. This means that Americans would continue to be exposed indefinitely to deadly air pollution from the country’s largest source of uncontrolled toxic air pollution. The resolution would strip EPA of the tools to address those hazards and leave the American public without adequate protection from carcinogenic and neurotoxic pollutants.

We strongly urge you to oppose this radical effort to roll back the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards – a landmark Clean Air Act achievement for public health. Senator Inhofe’s resolution takes our country backwards at a time when we should be focused on turning around our economy by creating clean energy jobs and protecting public health.

Again, please vote NO on S.J. Res 37. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Center for Biological Diversity
Earthjustice
Environment America
Environmental Defense Fund
League of Conservation Voters
League of Women Voters
Natural Resources Defense Council
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Sierra Club
Southern Environmental Law Center
U.S. Climate Action Network