Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, issued a statement April 16 after the Environmental Protection Agency determined it is no longer “appropriate and necessary” to protect public health from mercury and other toxics like arsenic and benzene from power plants, despite EPA’s own analysis that describes the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards Rule would prevent thousands of premature deaths, reduce the occurrence of asthma attacks and acute bronchitis and prevent more than 800,000 missed days of work.
“The science is clear and irrefutable,” said Carper. “Mercury has a devastating impact on the neurological development of unborn children and the health of children and our most vulnerable populations. By deeming it is no longer ‘appropriate and necessary’ to protect people from mercury and other air toxics, EPA is removing the legal underpinnings of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards to ensure that this life-saving rule can eventually become unraveled.”
“Under normal circumstances, I might remark that this is just another day at the Trump EPA — another environmental rollback,” said Carper. “But the egregious nature of this action is different. Every American utility is already in compliance with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Compliance with the rule was achieved faster than expected and at a fraction of the cost. So let it be known that this is a truly needless rollback that will only create more uncertainty for our nation’s utilities. It will only lead to worse public health outcomes and, truly, could not come at a worse time.”
“Our country is suffering the grave and growing loss of tens of thousands of American lives to a novel coronavirus that attacks our respiratory systems, and this EPA is advancing rules that will cause more respiratory illness,” said Carper. “As we learn more about the link between air pollution and COVID-19-related deaths, this EPA is ignoring these warnings for the sake of scoring politically-driven ‘wins’ that will only increase harmful air pollution and put the most vulnerable among us at greater risk. And as we learn more about the lasting effects of COVID-19 on the heart and lungs, EPA is all but ensuring that higher levels of harmful air pollution will make it harder for people to recover in the long run, too.”
“This is how our nation’s Environmental Protection Agency is ‘aggressively responding’ to the COVID-19 pandemic, by putting Americans’ lives further at risk,” said Carper. “It bears repeating that none of this is acceptable and Americans deserve better.”