TU Applauds EPA's proposal to Curtail Toxic Air Pollution

Thu, 03/17/2011


Contact: Erin Mooney, TU National Press Secretary (571) 331-7970

TU Applauds EPA's proposal to Curtail Toxic Air Pollution

Arlington, Va. - Trout Unlimited (TU), the nation's leading trout and salmon conservation organization, lauded EPA's long-awaited proposal to tighten controls on toxic air pollutants from some types of  coal-and oil-fired power generating facilities. 

The proposal, announced yesterday, would reduce the amount of airborne mercury pollution reaching lakes and rivers. This pollution becomes concentrated in sport fish and poses a threat to sportsmen who consume fish.  Each state in the nation has at least one waterway with a fish consumption advisory because of risky levels of mercury in fish.  Minn. and Wisc., as well as 22 other states have state-wide advisories warning against fish consumption.

Using its Clean Air Act authority, EPA's proposed rule would reduce emissions of toxic air pollutants, such as mercury and chromium, from new and existing coal- and oil-fired electric utility steam generating units. 

"Trout Unlimited pioneered catch and release angling, so reducing air pollutants to create safer fish consumption may seem like an unlikely cause for us," said Steve Moyer, TU's Vice President for Government Affairs.  "But when fish are too toxic for safe human consumption, it's a strong indicator of ill-health for the fish and of its habitat," said Moyer.  

Research has linked elevated mercury levels in trout with depressed olfactory senses, potentially affecting their feeding, navigation and breeding abilities.

The proposal would also revise new source performance standards for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, which cause acid precipitation, responsible for undermining the health of Eastern mountain streams.  Acid precipitation has been one of the primary causes of reduced brook trout populations in the Appalachian Mountains from Maine to Georgia. 

For decades, TU has been a leader in ensuring that the Clean Air Act was strengthened and implemented well to substantially reduce deposition in the region. 

"The 1990 cap and trade provisions of the Clean Air Act showed that it's possible to greatly reduce acid deposition by curtailing sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions," Moyer said. "We are hopeful that the new standards will be part of a long-term solution that eliminates this scourge once and for all."

Power plants are the largest source of mercury emissions into the air. Once mercury from the air reaches water, microorganisms can change it into methylmercury, a highly toxic form that builds up in fish. People are primarily exposed to mercury by eating contaminated fish.

Trout Unlimited is the nation's largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.


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