It didn’t take long after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published new, life-saving mercury standards on Thursday for foes of the regulation to fight back. The rules, backed by leading environmental and public health groups, would set historic national limits on toxic pollutants, including mercury, emitted from coal-burning power plants.
But the long-awaited victory was eclipsed when, immediately following the official publication, Sen. Inhofe, R-Okla., proposed legislation to derail the ruling. The ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works dismissed any health benefits associated with the new standards and even chided his fellow Senate republicans for not doing enough to rein in what he calls a “regulatory nightmare.”
Inhofe’s proposal prompted health groups to defend the standards.
“The ink is not yet dry on the standards, but Sen. Inhofe has launched an attack against the life-saving protections to reduce power plant mercury and air toxics,” said Albert A. Rizzo, national volunteer chair of the American Lung Association in a press release. “Toxic air pollution from power plants makes people sick, damages children’s brains, triggers asthma attacks and heart attacks (and) causes cancer and premature deaths.”
EPA estimates the new standards would prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, 2,800 cases of chronic bronchitis and up to 2,600 hospital admissions by 2016.