New Mexicans Deliver Thank You Card to Senators for Protecting Public Health
NEW MEXICANS DELIVER THANK YOU CARDS TO SENATORS FOR PROTECTING PUBLIC HEALTH, VOTING AGAINST TOXIC LEGISLATION
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 6, 2012
CONTACT: Shrayas Jatkar, 505-459-2718, firstname.lastname@example.org
New Mexico Groups Celebrate that Senate Decided to Affirm EPA Mercury & Air Toxics Standards
Albuquerque, NM – July 6, 12: Today, New Mexicans from all walks of life celebrated and delivered giant, handmade “thank you cards” to Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall for protecting public health and helping to affirm the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently-finalized Mercury & Air Toxics Standards for power plants. Thanks in part to Senators Bingaman and Udall, the Senate rejected legislation by James Inhofe (R-OK) that tried to bar implementation of the new standards and prevent the EPA from ever issuing similar safeguards to protect New Mexico families and communities from toxic mercury in the future. Senator Udall was in the district office today and personally received the thank you card.
The Four Corners Power Plant near Farmington is among the worst coal-fired power plants in the nation for high levels of mercury emissions. According to the EPA, the new Mercury & Air Toxics Standards will create up to $200 million in health benefits for New Mexicans while preventing up to 24 premature deaths in 2016.
Vickie Regina has been volunteering with the local Sierra Club for months, using art to convey the significance of the new standards in limiting the harmful amounts of mercury, acid gases, and other toxics that pour out of dirty power plants. She made the thank you cards, which were signed by scores of New Mexicans and a diverse array of 27 community organizations from around the state.
“I believe the Senate vote is a big victory for New Mexicans, and puts the health and welfare of our children and our communities ahead of polluter profits,” said Vickie Regina with the Sierra Club in Albuquerque. “Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall should be commended for putting our children’s health first.”
Anglers especially have been concerned about mercury pollution from power plants, and 9 sportsmen organizations, mostly from southern New Mexico, signed the card to the Senators. Once airborne, mercury eventually rains down and settles in bodies of water where it is converted to methyl-mercury. This potent neurotoxin accumulates in fish and shellfish, and moves up the food chain to people and animals when they consume seafood from polluted bodies of water. As a result, there are fish advisories in every state currently to protect people against mercury and other toxic pollution. Thirty lakes and three rivers in New Mexico (totaling nine locations) are affected and have advisories for fish consumption.
“The Clean Air Act has been one of the most successful, bipartisan laws ever passed by the U.S. Congress,” said Kent Salazar with the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “It has helped America restore some of its great rivers. And as a lifelong New Mexico sportsman, I am grateful that our U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall stood up for Americans’ best interest – now and well into the future – by re-affirming the Clean Air Act and proceeding with critical protections for our water and air from mercury and other toxic pollutants.”
Mercury is a dangerous brain poison that poses a particular threat to prenatal babies and young children. Exposure in the bloodstreams of pregnant and nursing women can result in birth defects like learning disabilities, lowered IQ, deafness, blindness, and cerebral palsy.
“As a person of faith, I am concerned about all life and feel that we all have a moral responsibility to protect all life,” said Joan Brown, Executive Director of NM Interfaith Power and Light which includes the New Mexico Conference of Churches. “By defeating this cynical measure, Senator Inhofe and his supporters failed to kill the EPA Mercury & Air Toxics Standard, which means thousands of Americans, particularly children and women that are pregnant, will thankfully continue to be protected under the standard.”
The EPA finalized the new standards in February 2012, ending years of delay in setting limits on mercury and air toxics such as arsenic, chromium, nickel, and acid gases. Mercury emissions from power plants will be cut by ninety percent nationwide as a result. Nearly one million Americans submitted comments in support of the EPA’s Mercury & Air Toxics Standards during the public input process last year.
“America should be at the forefront of public health and environmental protections, not subjected to polluters and their allies in Congress attempting to overturn landmark toxic safeguards,” said Sanders Moore with Environment New Mexico. “Thankfully, Senators Bingaman and Udall and the majority of the U.S. Senate listened to the American people and voted in favor of clean air and healthy families.”