A recent report from Environment America confirms what the EPA and millions of affected Americans have known for years; that mercury, a poisonous chemical primarily emitted and polluted by coal fired plants, has been increasingly linked to birth defects, asthma, and learning disabilities. To make matters more salient for Texans, the report when on to show that more than a third of all mercury pollution comes from just four states: Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and – you guessed it – Texas.
This report comes on the wake of an EPA proposal to limit mercury and other air pollutants by this March, with the American Nurses Association calling on the EPA to specifically reduce mercury pollution by 90%. Not surprising, considering new research which estimates that “one in six women of childbearing age has enough mercury in her bloodstream to put her child at risk for learning disabilities, developmental disorders, and lower IQs, should she become pregnant. This means that more than 689,000 of the 4.1 million babies born every year could be exposed to dangerous levels of mercury pollution.”
The report went on to demonstrate that even small amounts of mercury can prove toxic, taking as little as 1 gram of mercury to contaminate a lake 20 acres in size.
Given this information, why on earth would Texas politicians such as Governor Rick Perry disregard and oppose the efforts of the EPA by approving the construction of ten new coal-fired plants? Regardless of opinions on climate change and energy portfolios, coal is by definition the most destructive, unhealthy and resource wasting industry, where literally every portion of the process destroys and degrades some part of our environment. From the destructive and often deadly efforts of mining, to its transportation and burning, coal pollutes both the air and water of local communities, and here in Texas, contaminates the underground watersheds of our already drought-stricken aquifers. When it comes to coal, politicians need to understand and realize the truth; that there is no such thing as “clean coal”.