Senators Stand Up for Americans’ Health, Help Senate Reject Rollback of Mercury Standards

For Immediate Release

Washington, DC – In a victory for Ohioans’ health and environment, the U.S. Senate today rejected a bill which would have allowed power plants to continue spewing toxic mercury pollution into our air. The bill, S.J. Res. 37, introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), would have put up to 11,000 American lives at risk every year. The motion to proceed to the bill was rejected by a vote of 43-56.

“Today, a majority of Senators stood up for Americans’ health and our environment by rejecting this reckless attempt to allow more toxic mercury pollution in our air,” said Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America, Environment Ohio's federal affiliate.

The legislation that was defeated sought to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently-finalized Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, which requires power plants to reduce their mercury pollution by 90 percent—the first-ever nationwide standard for mercury pollution from power plants, despite power plants being the largest single source of mercury pollution.

In 2010, two-thirds of all airborne mercury pollution in the country came from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants. In other words, power plants generate more airborne mercury pollution than all other industrial sources combined. All 50 states currently have advisories covering at least some of their waterways, warning women and children not to eat local fish due to mercury contamination.