The federal Environmental Protection Agency recently passed new standards that will slash emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from the nation’s dirtiest power plants. These rules will clean up our air significantly.

In December 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which will slash toxic mercury air emission by 90 percent. As the tailpipe state of the nation, this is great news for Maine.

Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that harms children’s developing brains. These clean air safeguards are a critical step in protecting our children’s health. Nationwide, this rule will save as many as 11,000 lives, prevent as many as 130,000 asthma attacks among children, and prevent as many as 4,700 heart attacks each year, according to the EPA.

Sen. Susan Collins, however, has introduced a rider to the Senate transportation bill (SA 1660 to S. 1813) that would eliminate these new toxic air pollution standards for industrial boilers and incinerators.

This “boiler MACT rule” also would significantly delay and weaken the new mercury and air toxics standards.

This rider does not simply delay standards. The proposed legislation fundamentally weakens the Clean Air Act and delays compliance deadlines for industry by a minimum of 3.5 years.

We need to protect our kids, families and communities from mercury, arsenic, acid gases and other toxins pouring out of dirty power plant smokestacks now. Therefore, I urge Collins to pull her support for the boiler MACT rule and not to delay the EPA’s new mercury standard. The health of our families and environment cannot wait.

David Sait


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