It took 21 years to craft the Mercury and Air Toxics standards (MATS), but in just two legislative months it can be quashed virtually forever. Powerful polluters in the industries that burn fossil fuels and the Republican majority in Congress, insisting that cleaning the air is a job-killing proposition, may snuff out the act before it can become law.
This isn’t trivial: the mercury, arsenic, lead, cyanide, acid gases and other toxic substances in the air assault the body. Mercury, for example, is a neurotoxin. It damages the brain and nervous system, and is particularly harmful to fetuses, infants and young children because their brains are still developing. MATS is one of the most important rules of the Clean Air Act. It mandates that power plants reduce the emissions of mercury as well as other toxins by 90 percent in the next five years. Implementation of these standards would avert 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks every year.
The pending nullification of the the first national standards for mercury pollution from power plants prompted my interview for Women’s Voices for Change with Dominique Browning, co-founder of Moms Clean Air Force, about air pollution and what she’s doing about it. You can do something about it too.