U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized the first-ever national standards to reduce mercury and other toxic air emissions – including arsenic, acid gas, and cyanide – from power plants on December 21, 2011:
Back in 1990, the first President Bush signed history legislation requiring our nation’s biggest polluters to limit the amount of mercury and other toxic gases that they were sending into the air.
It was a bold and necessary step to strengthen public health and protect the environment that we’ll leave to our kids.
But over the years, the law was never fully implemented.
Special interest groups kept delaying the process and remarkably, for over two decades emissions standards for our power plants, which are the dominant source of toxic pollution, were never put in place.
That was wrong. Today, my administration is saying, “Enough.”
We’re announcing common sense, new cost effective standards to dramatically reduce harmful air pollution.
Because we’re acting, emissions of mercury and other pollutants, which cause a range of health problems, including neurological damage in children, will decrease significantly.
In fact, we estimate we’ll prevent thousands of premature deaths, heart attacks, and thousands of cases of asthma in children each year by 2016.
So this is a good day.
It’s a good day in the fight for cleaner air.
It’s a good day in the fight for healthier communities.
And it’s a good day in the fight to protect our environment for the generations of Americans still to come.