For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Brian Willis, 202.675.2386,

Trump’s EPA Admin. to Reconsider Whether It’s OK for Coal Plants to Poison Pregnant Women and Young Children

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration and former coal lobbyist and acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, officially announced today that they are reconsidering the life-saving Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). These safeguards drastically curtail the emission of dangerous toxic pollution that poisons wildlife, contaminates seafood, and threatens the health of pregnant women and young children.

MATS requires coal- and oil-fired power plants to significantly reduce their emissions of toxic pollutants and, by doing so, safeguards American communities from the largest single source of mercury, arsenic, and a host of other dangerous substances. The EPA estimates that MATS protections prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths and more than 100,000 asthma and heart attacks each year; the value of those benefits to the public is estimated to be as high as $90 billion annually.

Coal plants and other sources of these pollutants have already met the standard that Trump is now proposing to reconsider. For that reason, numerous utilities, manufacturers, and coal plant owners have pleaded with Wheeler to keep MATS in place.  


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In response, Mary Anne Hitt, Senior Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, released the following statement:

“This is outrageous and appalling. Donald Trump and Andrew Wheeler have clearly lost touch with science and reality by moving forward with this reckless plan to undermine the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS). MATS has already gone into effect and saved thousands of lives, and the American people are not going to stand for its repeal just to please a few millionaire coal executives.

“Utilities, manufacturers, and most coal plants owners have already complied with MATS, under a 2017 deadline, so Trump and Wheeler are re-opening a Pandora’s box that could lead to more toxic pollution in our water and air. The only people who want to turn back the clock on this life-saving policy are the coal executives who employed Andrew Wheeler and gave big to Donald Trump’s campaigns. Trying to rollback MATS is perhaps the most egregious example yet of the Trump administration siding with a handful of millionaire fossil fuel executives and industry insiders over the working families and communities they pollute every day.”


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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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