Coal / FirstEnergy

Editorial: Healthy option

AKRON — “What deserves emphasis is the reason behind the closings, the Clean Air Act placing the national priority on public health. Mercury is a neurotoxin, science revealing its capacity to cause developmental problems for children, not to mention contributing, along with other toxic pollutants, to heart disease, asthma, cancer and premature death. More, emissions fall to the ground, and carried by rain and snow flow into rivers and lakes, even attaching to the food chain.

For years, federal officials have had the task of curbing mercury pollution. George W. Bush attempted to implement rules, but they were found insufficient by the courts. In that way, the effort of the Obama White House comes as no surprise, the Environmental Protection Agency finally issuing rules that reflect the mandate of the law.

The cry quickly sounded about the excessive cost, especially in a fragile economy. What the critics push aside are the far greater benefits, long the outcome of such environmental legislation. The EPA calculates that the mercury rules will prevent 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks per year. They will reduce childhood asthma cases by 130,000 and result in fewer hospital visits and fewer missed days at school and work.

The agency projects that an estimated $11 billion in implementation costs will translate into $37 billion to $90 billion in benefits by 2016.”

— editorial, Akron Beacon Journal

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