Credo Action

Tell Trump's EPA: Don't devalue human health to gut environmental rules

Sign the petition

The petition to the EPA reads:

"Don't devalue human health to gut rules on mercury or other air pollutants. Regulators must consider all benefits of a rule, including co-benefits, when protecting our health and environment."

    You'll receive periodic updates on offers and activism opportunities.

    Tell Trump's EPA: Don't devalue human health to gut environmental rules

    To make it easier to gut environmental regulations, the Trump administration has a new plan: It wants to change how the government values human health.

    By changing the cost-benefit analysis of air pollution rules to ignore the lives the rules will save, Trump's EPA will open the door to repealing them – and make it far harder to pass environmental protections in the future.

    Devaluing human health is a grotesque strategy with predictable consequences: More people will get sick or die. The EPA started by proposing to gut an important rule on mercury, but the consequences of changing its calculations could fundamentally change how we can protect ourselves and the environment.

    Tell Trump's EPA: Do not devalue human health in order to weaken rules on mercury and other air pollutants.

    Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin produced by burning coal. It contaminates the fish we eat and causes brain damage and reduced IQs in infants and small children.1 A 2011 Obama administration rule forced power plants to substantially reduce mercury emissions.2

    Now Trump wants to reverse the rule by deciding that environmental regulators must ignore "co-benefits," all of the extra benefits from an environmental rule beyond its narrow stated purpose.3 Because the harms of mercury are hard to calculate, the Obama administration justified the rule partly by considering all the lives and money saved because of the rule's other benefits – reducing air particulates and helping the climate by closing down coal plants. Trump wants to discount these benefits completely.

    The Trump administration's apathy to human health should not be surprising. Andrew Wheeler, the new head of Trump's EPA, is a former coal lobbyist for one of the nation's largest coal companies, Murray Energy. Wheeler's former boss, CEO Robert Murray, was a major donor to Trump’s inauguration fund, and he personally requested the rollback of the mercury rule.4

    Gutting the mercury rule is a gift to the coal industry, and it comes at the expense of children's brains. We must loudly oppose this proposal and any other attempt at changing the cost-benefit analysis of rules that discount their full impact on human health.

    Tell Trump's EPA: Do not devalue human health in order to weaken rules on mercury and other air pollutants.

    References:

    1. Brad Plumer, "How to tally up the benefits from EPA’s mercury rule," The Washington Post, Dec. 22, 2011.
    2. Ibid.
    3. Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, "In rollback of mercury rule, Trump could revamp how government values human health," The Washington Post, Oct. 1, 2018.
    4. Coral Davenport, "Trump Administration Prepares a Major Weakening of Mercury Emissions Rules," The New York Times, Sept. 30, 2018.

    Photo: DKAR Images/Getty Images