Thomas Hart Benton Chapter, Sierra Club member

To the editor:

As an RN, I’m relieved that the Environmental Protection Agency has issued public health protections against mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants.  For too long, these have threatened our health and strangled our economy with billions of dollars in health costs.

Every year, 300,000 babies are born with mercury levels that can result in learning disabilities, lowered IQ, deafness, blindness and cerebral palsy. These pollutants can cause or exacerbate cancer, asthma, or other respiratory or heart disease in minorities, the elderly or those who live near a coal plant or who eat fish from the many contaminated bodies of water.

During the 21 years since Congress passed the Clean Air Act Amendments, 18 states passed mercury standards, and now we will have one uniform standard.  Tens of thousands of much needed jobs will be created.  Our electric bills may increase 3 percent, but for every dollar spent, we will save $3 to $9 on health costs!  

The standards will likely save 11,000 lives annually, with about 100 in the Kansas City area. From a nurse’s viewpoint, this is a great bargain.