For Immediate Release (Thursday, January 5, 2006):
Neil Carman, Lone Star Sierra Club, 512-288-5772
Karen Hadden, SEED Coalition, 512-797-8481
Donna Hoffman, Lone Star Sierra Club, 512-477-1729 or 512-299-5776 (cell)
Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club consists of over 25,000 members.
The Chapter spans the entire state of Texas, excepting El Paso, which
is part of the Rio Grande Chapter.
Located in Austin, the Lone Star Chapter's State Conservation Office
serves Sierrans as their grassroots communications center. We also provide
Sierrans with a full time professional activist staff employed to represent
Sierrans as we fight at the state level to protect and conserve Texas'
diverse and valuable natural heritage.
Lone Star Sierra Club and the SEED Coalition
Call on Governor Perry
to Follow Illinois Lead and Protect Texans from Mercury
Spotlight Shifts to Governor Perry After Illinois Raises the Bar for Mercury Protections
Today, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich announced a plan to require Illinois' coal-fired power plants to reduce the levels of toxic mercury released into our air and water. The plan forces the plants to reduce mercury pollution by 90% in the next three years. Here in Texas concerned residents called upon Governor Perry to quickly follow Illinois' lead in protecting residents from this toxic poison.
In Texas, the mercury issue has raised concerns as energy companies propose to build six new, coal-fired power plants in the State using dirty old technology.
“Texas ranks Number One in the United States - not only in football, but in deadly mercury released into the air by electric power plants based on the U.S. Environmental Protect Agency’s TRI data,” noted Neil Carman, Clean Air Program Director for the Lone Star Sierra Club. “Texas now has more than a dozen bodies of water, including the Gulf of Mexico contaminated with methyl mercury in the fish such that fish consumption advisories have been issued stating not to consume them.”
Governor Perry’s office recently drew criticism for its Executive Order No. RP-49 that concerns, among other things, diversity of energy supply. The Order expedites the environmental permitting process and hearings at the State Office of Administrative Hearings relative to the new coal plants.
Governors in other states are taking matters in to their own hands to protect women and children from harmful mercury pollution. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina and Wisconsin already have mercury standards in the works that demand deeper and faster cuts than the federal proposal.
“Perry is pushing for more dirty coal, which means more toxic mercury pollution, more brain damage in children, more contaminated fish. Cleaner energy alternatives should be used instead of the huge proposed coal plants, such as the TXU plant proposed for Robertson County. If built, the TXU plant would rival the worst mercury polluting plants in the nation, even when brand new,” stated Karen Hadden, Director of the SEED Coalition.
Mercury is a developmental neurotoxin that can affect fetuses developing in the womb, young children, and at higher doses, can lead to serious health effects in adults. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that one in six women of childbearing age has mercury levels in her blood that are high enough to put a baby at risk. Nationwide, as many as 630,000 infants are born every year with unsafe mercury levels, putting them at risk of cognitive and developmental damage.
"If Illinois can take steps to protect its children, why can’t Texas do the same?" said Donna Hoffman, Communications Coordinator for the Lone Star Sierra Club, "There's no arguing we're best at football, but today, Illinois won resoundingly for its citizens’ long-term health."
The Sierra Club is sponsoring a mercury hair-testing program with University of North Carolina, where those who are concerned about mercury levels can find out exactly how much mercury is in their bodies. Home testing kits are available for a small non-profit fee online at www.sierraclub.org/mercury