A new standard for the environment | AspenTimes.com

A new standard for the environment

Dear Editor:

As an Aspen High School graduate, I have always been proud of Aspen’s strong pollution standards, which provide clean air and clean water for Aspen’s residents and visitors and allow Aspen’s wildlife to flourish. Because of this, I felt especially shocked and helpless to learn that, without federal pollution limits, neither Aspen nor Colorado can effectively protect its residents from the threat of toxic mercury pollution in our waterways – because much of this pollution travels here from other states.

Power plants in the United States emit 66,050 pounds of mercury annually. Because this mercury is released into the atmosphere, it travels between states before it falls into Colorado’s waterways in the form of rain and snow. As a result, Colorado’s laudable requirement that new coal power plants in our state use the best available technologies to capture at least 90 percent of emissions is not sufficient to protect our lakes, rivers and reservoirs from mercury pollution.

Nearly a quarter of Colorado’s lakes and reservoirs contain fish with elevated mercury levels. When ingested by humans, these mercury-contaminated fish cause a slew of health problems, such as heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks and premature death. In order to protect Aspenites and all Coloradans from the threat of toxic mercury pollution in our waterways, we need a national effort to reduce mercury pollution.

Fortunately, on Dec. 21, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency announced the first-ever nationwide standard for mercury and air-toxins pollution from power plants. This new standard is expected to cut toxic mercury pollution from power plants across the United States by 91 percent.

I applaud Obama and the EPA for their commitment to protecting the health of Colorado’s families from the threat of mercury pollution and air toxins. In order to ensure that the EPA continues to stand up to polluters and to protect the health of U.S. citizens, it is essential that we thank the EPA for its new mercury and air-toxins standard for power plants and express our continued support for strong pollution standards that will protect Aspenites, Coloradans and citizens across the U.S.

Please show your support by writing to Obama (1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20500) and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (USEPA Headquarters, Ariel Rios Building, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Mail Code 1101A, Washington, DC 20460).

Elissa Walter


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