Yesterday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office publicly released a letter signed by nearly 100 mayors from across the U.S. supporting the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) mercury safeguards.
Cutting mercury pollution will save countless lives and help millions of Americans avoid the terrible health consequences it produces. That is why today I am proud to join nearly 100 of my fellow mayors from around the country in offering our support for EPA's new mercury standards. Twenty-two years is too long to wait for this common sense measure.
A diverse range of mayors signed onto the letter, representing big cities, small towns, and everything in between. Lots of states are represented, including coal mining states like Kentucky. I'm proud to say that the mayor of my town, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, signed the letter -- maybe your mayor did, too.
If your mayor signed the letter, I hope you'll thank them through Facebook, Twitter, or letter to the editor of your local paper -- you can find the full list of mayors on page two of the letter (PDF).
Believe it or not, while coal plants are our nation's number one source of mercury pollution, until this year there were no national mercury standards in place for coal plants. None at all! Coal plants could just spew 100% of their toxic mercury into the air, which then made its way into our waterways and the fish that we eat. Expectant moms would then pass that mercury onto their babies in the womb, every year putting over 300,000 newborn babies at risk of life-long developmental problems, like lowered IQ and delays in walking and talking.
Congress required these safeguards back in 1990, but the coal industry successfully blocked them for over two decades. That loophole was finally closed earlier this year, when the EPA put standards in place that will require all coal-fired power plants to reduce their toxic mercury pollution by 90%.
As a mom, I'm thankful to these bold public officials for speaking out for public health, and I stand with them as they tell the EPA, "Clean, healthy air and water are fundamental American rights and we are eager to work with your agency to ensure these historic protections are quickly implemented."