Victory for Mother Earth! New MATS standards cut pollution from outdated power plants.
Welcome to the 21st century, that is the message the EPA sent to outdated U.S. power plants which pollute the surrounding environment. Environmentalists are heralding the EPA ruling as a historic achievement over 20 years in the making. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) are the first ever national standards aimed at protecting U.S. families from toxic chemicals such as mercury, arsenic, and cyanide among others which are a byproduct of coal fired power plants. According to the EPA, pollution control methods are widely available; in fact over half of the nation’s coal-fired power plants already utilize the tools.
The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are expected to help America’s children grow up healthier, even preventing up to 11,000 premature deaths per year. Albert A. Rizzo, MD, national volunteer chair of the American Lung Association, stated that “since toxic air pollution from power plants can make people sick and cut lives short, the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are a huge victory for public health.” By reducing the pollutants released into the environment it is also expected that these standards will prevent nearly 130,000 cases of asthma and reduce acute bronchitis among the nation’s children. While the health statistics focused on the human factor, it is important to point out that plant and animal life will also benefit.
Opponents to the regulations are concerned that the 3 year timeline to become compliant or shutdown is too short and the up-front costs are too high. The fear is that they will need to reduce workers in order to pay for the improvements and potentially have service interruptions for the customers of affected coal fired power plants. The EPA counters this by providing state permitting authorities with the power to grant an additional year for technology installation if needed. Implementing MATS is also expected to create jobs as the technological solutions are created by American businesses and will require local workers to complete the installation.
Whether U.S. power companies are forced to go green or make the conscious decision themselves, the fact that efforts are underway is a win for the environment. Mercury and other power plant emissions poison our water supply and the plants and animals that rely upon it. The MATS standards are truly a victory for a sustainable earth and all the life it supports.