The Trump administration and Environmental Protection Agency have announced they will weaken regulations on the mercury and toxic metals released from oil and coal-fired power plants. This is yet another assault on public health and the environment that comes close on the heels of the early April announcement of rollback of federal tailpipe emissions standards. At a time when the link between poor air quality and negative health outcomes – including death – are clearer than ever, this is a backwards move.
“Coal-fired power plants in America are at the end of the road, not because of regulatory action, but because clean and carbon-free power sources are now so much cheaper,” said Michael Noble, executive director of Fresh Energy. “The Trump Administration cannot revive this fading industry by allowing increased air toxins during a public health crisis made worse by pollution in the air Americans breathe.”
By weakening these regulations for oil and coal-fired power plants, the federal government is continuing to chip away Minnesota’s rights to protect the health of its own residents from known health-harming mercury and toxic metals.
Studies show that living with air pollution has been linked to higher rates of lung disease like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, especially among communities of color, indigenous communities, and low-income communities which are affected by air pollution at a higher rate than the state average. New research released by Harvard experts shows that a disproportionate number of COVID-19-related deaths are occurring in communities with the highest amounts of air pollution.