Protect Our Air and Water From Harmful Mercury Emissions

Target: Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator

Goal: Prevent the EPA from refusing to regulate mercury emissions from power plants.

Seventeen years ago, the U.S. EPA concluded there should be a rule limiting mercury emissions from power plants fueled by coal and oil, but now the Trump administration is having second thoughts. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has asked a court of appeals to put litigation over the agency’s regulation of mercury emissions on hold while the new administration decides whether or not it actually wants to limit the release of this lethal toxin. Pruitt has proven that he cares more about small government ideology than clean air and water for U.S. lands and citizens. He must be shown that we will not allow environmental pollution or threats to human health that now seem so certain under his watch.

Mercury is an extremely toxic chemical that causes irreparable damage to the developing brains of fetuses and young children. Given the propensity of power companies to place their most polluting plants in communities of color, mercury emissions can be a wellspring of environmental injustice by polluting the brains of young minorities. The severe effects mercury has on human health are the reason why the EPA found it was “appropriate and necessary” to regulate this hazardous air pollutant in the first place.

Should Pruitt decide to retract the agency’s “appropriate and necessary” finding, power plant operators could decide to stop using emission-control technology, leaving them free to pollute the ecosystems and developing minds of the United States. Even worse, it could open the agency for future harmful deregulation, by allowing the EPA to claim that any environmental regulation without directly measurable benefits that outweigh its costs should not be enforced. This would do a grave injustice to the duty of the EPA to protect U.S. environments and societies and must be stopped before it’s too late.


Dear Administrator Pruitt,

In 1998, the EPA found that mercury emissions from coal- and oil-fueled power plants were “hazardous air pollutants” due to the irreparable harm they cause to the developing brains of fetuses and young children. In 2000, the agency formally stated that regulation of mercury emissions was “appropriate and necessary,” and finally, over two years ago power plants began complying with the new rules. Yet you recently asked a D.C. court of appeals to put a case about the emission rules on hold while your new administration considers if they are truly warranted. Today I write to you to tell you that they are, and as a citizen of this country with much to lose from federal backpedaling on this issue, I demand that you uphold the well-considered and thoroughly beneficial regulation of hazardous mercury emissions.

While I understand that you and the rest of the Trump administration operate under small government ideology, regulation is often necessary to ensure clean air and water for the American people and their lands. Because the burning of fossil fuels releases so many pollutants into our environment, it can be expensive for power plants to clean their emissions, and so there is a large incentive to pollute, especially in the minority communities where the dirtiest plants tend to be located. As such, if the EPA does not enforce stringent mercury emissions rules, some of our most vulnerable residents will suffer great harm to their health and well-being. I urge you to recognize the serious, deadly threat posed by mercury emissions and continue enforcing regulations that ensure clean air and water for our people and planet.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Arnold Paul

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One Comment

  1. Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

    get heavy metals out of there!

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