Senators Franken, Klobuchar Stand Up for Public Health, Votes Against Toxic Legislation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 20, 2012

Senators Franken, Klobuchar Stand Up for Public Health, Votes Against Toxic Legislation

Minneapolis – Today, Senator Senators Franken and Klobuchar stood up for the public health of Minnesota’s children and voted against Senator James Inhofe’s dangerous legislation that sought to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently finalized Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants. Thanks in part to Senators Franken and Klobuchar, the Senate rejected the measure. Had it passed, 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 Minnesota families from toxic mercury in the future.

“Today, Senators Franken and Klobuchar stood up to polluters and voted in favor of the health and well-being of Minnesota children,” said Joshua Low, Organizing Representative for the Sierra Club. “Senators Franken and Klobuchar’s vote helped ensure that Big Coal is barred from pumping toxics into the air we breathe and the water we drink, preventing thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of asthma attacks every year.”

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. This safeguard would prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, 130,000 asthma attacks, and 540,000 missed work days. 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 health savings each year. 

Coal-fired power plants are the largest industrial source of mercury pollution. The new landmark protections issued by the Obama Administration in December 2011 will cut toxic mercury pollution from dirty power plants by 90 percent.

In Minnesota, Xcel’s Sherco and Minnesota Power’s Clay Boswell plant were recently listed by the NRDC as the worst plants in Minnesota for mercury pollution reaching the Great Lakes. A recent Minnesota Department of Health study showed that 1 in 10 babies on Minnesota’s North Shore had unhealthy levels of mercury their blood.

“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 Joshua Low, Organizing Representative, Sierra Club. “Thankfully, Senators Franken and Klobuchar and the majority of the Senate listened to the American people and voted in favor of clean air and healthy children.”

The vast majority of Minnesotans and Americans support mercury protections, which ensure a safer, cleaner environment and healthier kids.

“Moving forward, Senators Franken and Klobuchar should continue to be an advocate for children’s health by voting against the reckless polluting agenda of Big Coal,” said Joshua Low, Organizing Representative, Sierra Club.

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