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Moms Not Backing Down Over EPA Mercury Pollution Proposal

Mercury pollution in the U.S. has declined by 80 percent since 2012. The neurotoxic heavy metal has been shown to disrupt fetal brain development. (Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons)
Mercury pollution in the U.S. has declined by 80 percent since 2012. The neurotoxic heavy metal has been shown to disrupt fetal brain development. (Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons)
March 20, 2019

LAFAYETTE, Colo. - Moms from Colorado and 14 other states testified this week in Washington, D.C., at the only hearing scheduled by the Environmental Protection Agency on its plans to repeal some air pollution protections at coal plants.

Former Lafayette Mayor Christine Berg of Lafayette, a mother of two and a Colorado field consultant for Moms Clean Air Force, told officials that since the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards were implemented in 2012, pollution from Colorado's nine coal-fired power plants has been reduced by 60 percent.

"This is a common-sense regulation. We know it works. We know the impact," she said. "It's cleaned up our environment, it has protected our children, and we are not going to stand by and let this get repealed."

Berg said the standards, which required power plants to install scrubbers to remove mercury and other toxins from emissions, produces more than $1 billion in health benefits in Colorado each year. The Trump administration has claimed that the cost of mitigating pollution outweighs the benefits, although opponents of the rollback have pointed out that many plants already have installed the technology.

Berg said protecting the environment also is critical to Colorado's economy. Last year, more than 80 million tourists came to the state - many to hike, fish, camp and hunt. She noted that the outdoor recreation economy brings $62 billion into the state each year.

"That absolutely dwarfs any sort of cost savings that the Trump administration thinks would come out of repealing these protections," she said. "The future health of our economy, the future health of our environment and the future health of our children are all at stake."

Mercury is a neurotoxin that has been shown to disrupt development of the fetal brain and also can harm toddlers and adults. Studies have linked childhood mercury exposure to delays or dysfunction in language, attention and memory well into adolescence.

The EPA is taking public comments on the rollback proposal online through April 17 at epa.gov.

Information on MATS is at epa.gov/mats, and Colorado-related information is at momscleanairforce.org

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO