Rule with stricter emission standards will result in cleaner water and air in Alabama

Birmingham – Today the Environmental Protection Agency released its much anticipated rule on Mercury and other Air Toxics with stricter restrictions for power plants across the country.  After hundreds of thousands of public comments in support of the rule and review by experts at the agency, the EPA will require stricter air standards that will reduce emissions of harmful toxins.

     “This rule is one of the most significant public health and environmental protections in years,” said Michael Churchman, Executive Director of the Alabama Environmental Council. Churchman and other advocates traveled to Atlanta earlier this year to share comments at a public hearing. “Technology is available, this rule has been in the making for decades, and public health will benefit tremendously. Scare tactics of rolling blackouts and exorbitant costs have been threatened before and didn’t come true. We’re confident we can innovate and grow our clean energy economy through this and other smart efforts.”

     “Cleaner water will be a tangible benefit of today’s EPA ruling,” said Cindy Lowry, Executive Director of the Alabama Rivers Alliance. “One of the real dangers is when particles from air pollution are absorbed into the water and become toxic to fish and humans as it enters the food chain through fish tissue. We’re #1 in states for the number of species that live in our rivers and streams, yet we rank 3rd nationally for imperiled species. We also have 61 water bodies on the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Fish Consumption Advisory List (2009) for mercury contamination. This rule will help protect these natural resources and the lives that depend on them.”

8 months after moving across town, I have finally figured out an alternative to driving to downtown Birmingham everyday. I choose to ride my bike to a local bus stop that takes me over the mountain to downtown. It may not work for everyone and it won't work everyday, but it is an alternative that can get you where you need to go and add a bit of exercise and outside time to your commute. You will also be learning about and supporting public transportation ase well as probably meeting some new people in the process. Sure, not all bus schedules are reliable and altering your schedule may not be for everyone, but that's another conversation.

Sustain Our State (SOS) Rally

Linn Park, Downtown Birmingham

Conservation Groups and concerned citizens call on elected officials

to assure healthy, clean water and air and real public transit.

 

 

Birmingham – Stateand local civic and conservation organizations and citizens are calling on Alabama legislators to Sustain Our State by assuring healthy, clean water and air and real public transit. We call for actionable, implementable (1) water (2) energy and (3) public transportation policies and plans now to assure this sustainable future. 1-2-3 GO!  

The SOS Rally takes place at Linn Park Tuesday, August 16. Starting at 1:00 PM, featured speakers discuss clean water (Cindy Lowry, Alabama Rivers Alliance), air/energy  (Michael Churchman, Alabama Environmental Council) and real transit  (Peter Behrman, Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority).

Participants are making and carrying posters, decorating a DART trolley, signing the Clean Air Promise(found on back) and to sending letters(sample found on back) to our state leaders to express our views on the need for policies that ensure a sustainable future for all Alabamians. Rally participants include United Methodist Women from all over the U.S. in Birmingham for their National Social Justice Training Seminar.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made recent efforts to regulate mercury and air toxics emissions from coal fired power plants, and representatives from the Alabama Environmental Council, Alabama Rivers Alliance, and GASP will participate in a public hearing in support of the proposed regulations. It will take place at the EPA Region IV office in Atlanta this Thursday, May 26th from 8 am to 9 pm.  Other related activities in Atlanta that day will include a free mercury hair testing event at the Vintage Barber Shop and a fish fry sponsored by the Coosa River Basin Initiative. 

Four of the nation’s top 50 mercury-emitting power plants in 2009 were in Alabama, and three of the top 25 were in the Birmingham metro area. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry states that one of the top sources of human exposure to mercury, a potent neurotoxin that can cause a variety of health problems from learning disorders to heart attacks, is coal-fired power plants. Coal plants are the single largest source of human-made mercury emissions. 

“We need the EPA to regulate mercury and stop this,” says Michael Churchman, executive director of the Alabama Environmental Council, who is scheduled to speak on behalf of the Alabama groups.  “We want to bring the message that Alabamians demand healthy air and water and we will no longer stand for being a state with some of the dirtiest air in the nation.”

The United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") today reversed a 2008 decision that had weakened Alabama laws limiting emissions from smokestacks. In one of its final actions, the Bush Administration allowed Alabama to ease restrictions on the amount of smoke that sources such as power plants may emit. Today’s rulemaking action by EPA is a victory for cleaner air across Alabama and especially in areas like heavily-polluted Birmingham, which has failed to meet federal air quality standards for dangerous fine particulates for many years.

Michael Churchman, Executive Director for the Alabama Environmental Council, explained: "What happened here is that some of Alabama’s polluters convinced regulators to relax a rule that had been on the books for 30 years – only after citizens sued to enforce that rule. Today, the EPA recognized that was the wrong decision. Technology is used all over the country to better control emissions and should be required to operate continuously in Alabama. I believe that today’s action will significantly help clean up the state’s air and protect public health. And, at a time when many see the environment competing with the economy, it is great to see EPA’s recognition of no anticipated increase in cost of compliance for sources that were already in compliance with previous requirements."

Check out AEC's former program coordinator, Jenny Dorgan, on the NPR/WBHM radio program "On the Line", discussing Alabama's Air Quality issues

click here to listen   |   click here to go to the NPR site

Also, check out other WBHM reports on:

Check out the report "Clearing the Air", which the AEC helped fund and to author, written by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy for the Alabama Clean Air Action Network (ACAAN)

Change Driving HabitsWalk, bike, carpool, or take mass transit as often as possible.  You will save energy while enjoying nature.  If you must drive, group errands together to reduce unnecessary trips.  Also, be sure to keep your car well maintained and your tires properly inflated.

Alabama's children will live and play in a toxic free environment.  Businesses and governments will reduce the use and prevent the release of air pollutants that are harmful to human health. Parents and caregivers will not be forced to stay indoors on bad air days or to take their at-risk family members to the hospital as a result of air pollution.  We see declines in asthma, learning disabilities, cancer and other health problems triggered by pollution, especially among children.  

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