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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Senators Bingaman and Udall Stand Up for Public Health, Vote Against Toxic Legislation

The following is from the Sierra Club; Shrayas Jatkar, Organizing Representative

New Mexico Groups Thankful that Senate Decided to Affirm EPA Mercury and Air Toxics Standard

Today, June 20, 2012, Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall stood up for the health of New Mexico’ children, seniors, pregnant women, and other vulnerable populations by voting against Senator James Inhofe’s dangerous legislation that sought to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently-finalized Mercury & Air Toxics Standard for power plants. Thanks in part to Senators Bingaman and Udall, the Senate rejected the measure. Had it passed, Senator Inhofe’s legislation would not only bar the implementation of these new safeguards, but would also prevent the EPA from ever issuing similar standards to protect New Mexico families and communities from toxic mercury in the future.

Mercury is a potent brain poison that threatens prenatal babies and young children, and is linked to severe learning disabilities, developmental problems, and lower IQ. Today’s vote on Senator James Inhofe’s CRA resolution, which was introduced two months ago, means that New Mexico children, seniors, families, and communities – particularly on the Navajo Nation – will continue to be protected from the harmful amounts of mercury, arsenic, acid gases and other toxics that pour out of dirty power plants. The Four Corners Power Plant near Farmington ranks among the worst coal-fired power plants in the nation for high levels of mercury emissions.

“By defeating this cynical measure, Senator Inhofe and his supporters failed to kill the EPA mercury and air toxic standard, which means thousands of Americans, particularly children, will thankfully continue to be protected under the standard,” said Dr. Robert M. Bernstein, an endocrinologist practicing in Santa Fe and President of the Physicians for Social Responsibility-New Mexico.

According to the EPA, the mercury and air toxics standard will save as many as 11,000 lives, prevent as many as 130,000 asthma attacks among children, and prevent as many as 4,700 heart attacks each year. In New Mexico, the new standard will prevent up to 24 premature deaths while creating up to $200 million in health benefits in 2016.

“I believe today’s 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 Shrayas Jatkar with the Sierra Club in Albuquerque. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall should be commended for putting our children’s health first.”

Additionally, these protections make economic sense – for every dollar spent cleaning up dirty power plants, Americans are estimated to receive between $3 and $9 in health benefits in return. In total, that means as much as $90 billion in savings on health care costs each 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 stood with the American people and voted in favor of clean air and healthy families.”

June 20, 2012 at 06:47 PM in Environment, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink