Press Release | June 19, 2020

Four Health and Medical Groups File Legal Action Defending Lifesaving Mercury and Air Toxics Standards

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Lung Association, American Public Health Association, and Physicians for Social Responsibility, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, filed a petition for judicial review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s May 2020 rule reversing its previous determinations that it is “appropriate and necessary” under the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) to regulate hazardous air pollutants from coal-fired power plants. At the same time, the organizations are seeking to defend the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards in a challenge to the MATS Rule brought by Westmoreland Mining Holdings LLC.  Westmoreland’s challenge is based on EPA’s undercutting of the MATS Rule in the May 2020 rule. In response, the organizations issued the following quotes:

“Pediatricians know that children are uniquely vulnerable to hazardous air pollution and its serious health consequences. Children are not little adults and their lungs are still developing, putting them at greater risk for harmful impacts to their lifelong health and development. Any efforts that undermine the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will jeopardize the important progress we’ve made to protect children’s health, especially for children who live in minority communities that are disproportionately affected by both air pollution and the respiratory conditions it exacerbates, like asthma. The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging the court to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2020 final rule in order to help ensure all children can breathe clean air, no matter where they live.” – Sally Goza, MD, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics

“The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are a success. America’s babies are healthier, and our air is cleaner. EPA’s rule to undermine these standards goes against scientific evidence, and devalues and endangers the health of babies, children, pregnant women, and many other vulnerable populations. Millions are breathing cleaner air because of these protections promised by the Clean Air Act. The American Lung Association is taking this legal action to safeguard the health of all Americans, especially our most vulnerable.” – Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO, American Lung Association

“EPA’s final rule shows that the agency whose very mission is to protect public health and the environment is changing course in a dramatic and damaging way. By undermining the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards, EPA threatens the country’s successful effort to clean up mercury and other dangerous toxic air pollution from power plants and our goal of achieving health equity for all. The American Public Health Association joins in this legal action because these standards, which have prevented 11,000 premature deaths each year, have truly been a public health success story. EPA is taking an insidious action that should not be allowed to stand.” – Georges C. Benjamin, MD, Executive Director, American Public Health Association

“The brains of infants, children and developing fetuses are developing and changing very rapidly, so they are highly vulnerable to permanent damage from mercury emitted by coal-fired power plants. I oppose the EPA’s rule because I’m concerned it would expose children to dangerous levels of mercury.” – Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc, FAAP, nationally acclaimed pediatrician and researcher speaking on behalf of Physicians for Social Responsibility

“The safeguards that have sharply cut the amount of toxic air pollutants, including mercury and arsenic, have been a success story for health and for the environment. It is unconscionable—and unlawful—for the EPA to undermine this achievement. And, as a result, it’s no surprise that a coal company is now directly challenging these safeguards.” – Deborah Murray, senior attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center

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