Sen. Tom Carper is opposing a recent Trump Administration proposal that could ease federal limits on mercury pollution.
The top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee joined faith leaders and health advocates drawing attention to the proposed EPA rule Tuesday. Experts say it would weaken restrictions on emissions of the neurotoxin from coal-fired power plants, and set precedents that could affect other regulations.
Delaware has only one coal-fired power plant— the Indian River Generating Station in Dagsboro. Its emissions are controlled by the state’s Electric Generating Unit Multi-Pollutant Regulation.
But Carper says federal air quality regulations are still vital to protect the Delaware from out-of-state pollution. “About ninety percent of our air pollution in Delaware Comes from out of our state. We’re at the end of America’s tailpipe along with our neighbors in New Jersey, maybe northern Virginia, Maryland,” said Carper.
“We can do a lot to reduce our emissions, but at the end of the day, the folks who are running plants for example in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee… what they put up in the air has a huge amount of effect compared to what we put up in Delaware,” he added.
In a statement released late last month, Carper said the proposed EPA action “will adversely affect the health and safety of those living from coast to coast.”
Pediatrician and public health researcher at Boston College Philip Landrigan says mercury is a neurotoxin especially dangerous to developing fetuses. “The consequence is brain damage … which shows up as diminished IQ, shortened attention span, behavioral problems,” he said. “Those problems can persist for years.” He adds mercury primarily impacts humans when it is ingested as methylmercury that has accumulated in fish.
Acting Director of the Division of Air Quality at DNREC David Fees said Friday DNREC was still reviewing the Trump Administration’s proposal and deciding whether the Department will comment on it.