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Ohio Moms: Time to Cross the Finish Line on Mercury Protections

November 17, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Some Ohio moms are among those nationwide who say it's time to cross the finish line on protecting Americans from mercury pollution. President Obama will soon finalize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics rule, which would require power-plant owners to cut overall emissions of mercury more than 90 percent.

Jenny Linn, Columbus, is with the Moms Clean Air Force. She says this is a critical issue for women, as mercury pollution can accumulate in their bodies through eating fish.

"Coal plants are allowed right now to put as much of this as they want into our environment, and there's nothing stopping them. There's nothing protecting us, and we need to start stepping up and trying to protect the health of our children and the health of our community."

Opponents of the rule argue it will hurt the economy through job losses and warn it will have a negative impact on utilities and power prices. However, supporters say the EPA has received more than 900,000 public comments in support of the rule, and they warn that delaying implementation will jeopardize the health and well-being of millions of Americans. The rule has been in the works for more than 20 years and has a mid-December deadline.

It's estimated that the pollution reductions required by the rule will result in health benefits worth $59 billion to $140 billion per year.

Rashay Layman, associate organizing representative with the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign, says that's a tremendous impact on public health.

"Health benefits of the EPA's proposed Mercury and Air Toxics standards will result in 17,000 premature deaths avoided, 11,000 heart attacks avoided, 120,000 asthma attacks avoided."

Ohio was recently ranked second in the country for airborne mercury pollution. Last year, more than two-thirds of all such pollution in the state came from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH