by Nicole Cairns, Online Deputy Director, Power Shift
This morning, EPA Administrator (and Power Shift 2011 speaker!) Lisa P. Jackson sat down and took questions about the Mercury and Air Toxics Proposal from citizens, including some Green Corps and Power Shift organizers. [Watch the full-length video or read our highlights of the chat below.]
Yesterday, the EPA released a Mercury and Air Toxics Standards proposal -- the first to recommend national limits on mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel, and acid gasses emitted from coal and oil-powered plants.
By enacting this plan and regulating these toxics, the EPA estimates the plan will will prevent as many as 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks a year, as well as prevent 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and about 11,000 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children each year. It's one of the largest steps forward in protecting kids from toxic air pollution in a generation.
Furthermore, the Clean Air Act has employed 1.7 million Americans in the environmental technology industry since its inception. The Mercury and Air Toxics Proposal is estimated to create 31,000 short-term construction jobs and 9,000 long-term utility jobs once it takes affect. The proposal will undergo further review, followed by a public comment period, before the standards are finalized.
The chat, hosted by Kalpen Modi of the White House Office of Public Engagement, is a part of the White House's initiative to host 100 roundtables with administration officials and young Americans. Participants can develop their own roundtable discussions and invite officials from the Administration to participate. The chats, like that with Administrator Jackson, allow the in-person audience and those following along on Facebook to ask questions.