Sierra Club Supporters Testify Against Rollback of Mercury Safeguard’s Legal Foundation


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The environmental organization has also planned a media event with coalition partners and U.S. Senator Tom Carper on the steps of EPA

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sierra Club has organized dozens of volunteers and activists to testify today against former coal lobbyist and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s proposal to roll back the legal foundation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which were finalized in 2012. Despite fierce backlash from a variety of organizations, including medical associations, parents groups, and electric utilities, Wheeler’s proposal ignores many of the public health benefits of the mercury standards and abandons the common-sense rationale underlying EPA’s prior analysis justifying the standards under the Clean Air Act.

“Today we are standing firmly against Wheeler’s dangerous proposal, which is a handout to his former employers in the coal industry, that will endanger the health of American families,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Senior Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “Every electric utility in our country is already in compliance with these life-saving safeguards, which makes it clear just how determined former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler is to deliver every item on the coal industry’s wish list -- even if it threatens the health of pregnant women and young children.”

The MATS protect the public from mercury, arsenic, hydrochloric acid, and a variety of other air pollutants, which are especially harmful to vulnerable populations like infants and pregnant women. The EPA estimates that the MATS prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths and more than 100,000 asthma attacks and heart attacks each year. Utilities have been especially vocal against the proposal since they have already invested in pollution control equipment to comply with the lifesaving standards.  

“We will fight this in the courts, in hearing rooms, and in the streets,” said Loren Blackford, President of Sierra Club. “Attacking standards that protect our families and communities from toxic mercury is one of the most egregious and unethical decisions we have seen from this Administration.”

Since Wheeler announced his proposal, the Sierra Club has launched a five figure digital video ad buy and organized almost 40,000 people to submit comments (so far) against the proposal. The organization will also be visible outside the EPA hearing throughout the day.    

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit