Senator Inhofe Puts Polluters Ahead of Oklahoma Lakes
More than 900,000 Americans have called on the Environmental Protection Agency to issue long overdue standards for reducing toxic mercury pollution. Add your voice to protect rivers, lakes and wildlife--including the common loon.
Oklahoma City's Lake Hefner is an
urban oasis bustling with life, and rated as one of the best lakes for sail
boarding. With a boat dock and fishing docks, it's a draw for families eager to
catch some catfish, white bass or crappie. The lake has been featured for
months on the homepage of the state's senior senator, James Inhofe. The
problem is it's polluted.
Oklahoma's five coal-fueled power
plants are spewing toxic mercury into the air, triggering warnings for Lake
Hefner and 15 other state lakes. In July 2010, a study by the Oklahoma Department of
Environmental Quality (OK DEQ) found 16 lakes in Oklahoma where
some species of fish contain levels of mercury above what is considered safe.
As a result, the state governmental agency published its statewide fish consumption advisories to protect Oklahomans from
consuming too much mercury-laden fish caught by anglers from the state's lakes.
Mercury from coal-fired power plants
settles onto lakes and other waterways, entering the food chain and eventually
ending up in fish and the people who consume them. Mercury, arsenic and other toxic pollutants are subject to
no national limit, leaving coal plants to spew as much as they want. It’s been
shown to be especially harmful to children and pregnant mothers, where it
adversely affects developing brains and can hinder a child’s ability to walk,
talk, read and learn.
Progress is being made to clean up
lakes like Hefner. More than 900,000 Americans have called on the Environmental
Protection Agency to issue long overdue standards for reducing the
pollution. It's expected to save lives and create jobs. But polluters are
out to stop it.
Polluters have found a friend in
Senator James Inhofe, Oklahoma’s senior senator.
He's expected to demand a vote on a "Congressional Review Act resolution (CRA)"
before June 21 to strike down the EPA's mercury and air toxics standards
for power plants as soon as today. The CRA is a wrecking ball that
would permanently prevent national standards for mercury and air toxics.
POLITICO has reported that Sen.
Inhofe called the new standard "a killer." Really, Senator? Joe Mendelson, NWF climate and energy policy
"Senator Inhofe has it backward on
what the 'killer' is in this situation. EPA and public health and
environment groups all agree that the overdue mercury and air toxics standard will
save as many as 11,000 lives, while reducing dangerous mercury exposure to
children and pregnant mothers who consume fish laced with the toxic substance. EPA has also created a rule that will foster 46,000 construction jobs and 8,000
utility jobs as plants upgrade to cleaner technologies.
"Senator Inhofe may satisfy his
polluter special interest friends by attacking these pollution safeguards, but
his Oklahoma constituents and Americans will enjoy cleaner air, healthier water
and wildlife, and fewer premature deaths. With these new standards, President
Obama and the EPA have proved themselves champions for our health and
environment, while Senator Inhofe makes clear he's the polluter's champ."
Why would Senator Inhofe put polluters
ahead of cleaning up the lakes in his state?
Oklahoma is home to five coal-fired power plants that are the source
of the pollution. One such power plant, the Northeastern Plant, is owned by American Electric Power
(AEP). In 2010, a report benchmarking power plant air pollution
(see page 34) found AEP power plants to be the largest collective source of
mercury air pollution among all the nation’s largest utilities.
Between 1998 and 2011, AEP spent over $10M lobbying Congress,
including plenty over the last year, to rollback air pollution standards
like EPA’s new mercury and air toxic limits. For his part, Senator
Inhofe has received nearly half-million dollars from electric utility industries
in campaign contributions (including some from AEP) during his career including
a whopping $280K this election cycle.
We can stop Senator Inhofe’s “killer” plan. Tell Congress NOW that it’s time to clean up mercury pollution that threatens our children and wildlife.