Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it will significantly revise a crucial environmental safeguard. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), put in place by the EPA in 2011, aims to limit the amount of hazardous toxins and chemicals emitted by coal power plants, including mercury.
When emitted in vaporized form, as is commonly the case with these plants, mercury can enter the bloodstream more easily than through physical contact, magnifying its harmful – and potentially fatal – effects on the body’s nervous, muscular, and immune systems.
While the EPA announcement has not declared that it will directly overturn MATS, it will drastically alter the economic calculus used to determine whether protections ought to be in place, opening the door to future rollbacks and circumventions of the intended effects for this safeguard.
This decision will severely impact the American people, especially in areas with heavy concentrations of these potentially harmful power plants. By the EPA’s own estimates, MATS has reduced mercury emissions by over 80 percent. As someone fortunate enough to live in relative health, I may never feel the brunt of these rollbacks, but for my friends and family living with asthma and other breathing conditions, standards like MATS are essential to a healthy life.
As an ASU student and intern with Defend Our Future, a climate action group on campus, we ask that you please call Senators Sinema and McSally and ask them to publicly oppose these rollbacks and keep our communities safe.