Press Release Dec 21, 2011

New Mercury and Air Toxin Standards Will Result in Healthier Parks and People; Saving Lives and Improving Ecosystems and Wildlife Health

Statement by Stephanie Kodish, Clean Air Counsel, National Parks Conservation Association

“For generations, coal-fired power plants have been allowed to pump vast amounts of mercury and other air toxins into the air, which have settled in waterways and impacted the health of national parks and wildlife. Additionally, these poisons have led to thousands of unnecessary deaths and an increase of hundreds of thousands of medical conditions like asthma and heart disease each year. Once mercury becomes airborne, it settles into rivers, lakes and other water bodies, where it moves up the food chain, impacting fish and animals that eat fish, including people. Because of the health risk that mercury contamination poses, even the fish from places people assume are pristine, like our national parks, contain dangerous levels of mercury because of air pollution.

“The new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard that was announced today is a strong step in the right direction to curtail the damage that these toxins have caused to our national parks’ ecosystems and to our health. The EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) is requiring power plants to cut down on their mercury emissions by around 90 percent, and since they are responsible for about 50 percent of the mercury-based air pollution that means the air and water will have about 45 percent less mercury in it once these new limits are reached.

“Knowing the dangerous impact that mercury has on our national parks and our families, MATS sets in place important limits that will pay off in the generations to come through healthier people, wildlife and national parks.”

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About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.