Utility and Coal Companies Attempt to Obliterate Health Safeguards
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) will continue this week to support the utility and coal industries’ attack on essential health protections by pushing a vote to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. In anticipation of this vote, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released an analysis of the parallel legal effort by utility and coal companies to obliterate, undermine or delay the agency standards that protect Americans' health.
The CAP investigation, They Fought the Law, finds that the utilities involved in lawsuits against the Cross State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards annually emit 32,000 pounds of mercury and 6.5 million tons of acid rain and smog pollution. The latter is equivalent to 22 pounds of pollution for every man, woman and child in the U.S.
The CAP analysis includes specific pollution data for the 230
While these companies are emitting millions of tons of pollution, they are simultaneously pumping millions of dollars into lobbying campaigns to defeat these health protections. These utilities spent $86 million lobbying Congress to block health protections in 2011. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a coalition leading the charge to block mercury and toxic-reduction rules, spent $35 million in the fall of 2011 on misleading television ads, campaign contributions and lobbying Congress in a multilateral battle against public health.
Ultimately, the Cross State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards
When fully implemented, the Cross State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will prevent up to 45,000 premature deaths annually. Further, an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute found that the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will have a “positive net impact on overall employment” by creating 49,500 direct jobs by 2015. The institute concluded that, “By balancing benefits to health against costs of compliance—the toxics rule is a clear win for Americans.”
As polluters pursue
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By Governor Jay Inslee
Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.
In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.
Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.