Sierra Club
Sierra Club Press Release

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December 5, 2011
Contacts: Oliver Bernstein, 512.289.8618 or Kristina Johnson, 415.977.5619

Sierra Club Rallies for Mercury Awareness Week

Dozens of events nationwide, new resources come just ahead of expected mercury protections from the Obama administration

Washington, D.C. – The Sierra Club celebrates Mercury Awareness Week December 5-11 as President Obama prepares to issue the first nationwide protections against toxic mercury from coal plants later this month. Americans are planning rallies and awareness events to show their support for these long-overdue protections, while Big Coal and Big Oil are lobbying hard to block these commonsense safeguards.

"Americans have been waiting over 20 years for limits on mercury pollution from power plants, but the coal lobby has blocked them every step of the way," said Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. "This week, we are urging President Obama to stand strong, close this glaring loophole, and issue long-overdue final protections from toxic mercury. As a mother, I am especially concerned about mercury, which threatens the health of unborn children. I know I join millions of moms across the country in welcoming these long-overdue protections."

The finalized, strong mercury protections expected next week would cut over 90% of toxic mercury from coal-fired power plant pollution, reducing the contamination that leads to fish that are unsafe to eat.

Mercury Awareness Week event highlights include:
• ARKANSAS – mercury-free luncheon at the Arkansas state capitol
• NEVADA – clean air rally outside the Las Vegas Federal Building
• NEW JERSEY – reenactment of George Washington crossing the Delaware River, but with mercury coming across the river into New Jersey from coal pollution.

The Sierra Club will also release new online tools and resources later this week to help consumers make healthy choices about the seafood they eat. Stay tuned for additional details.

Mercury especially threatens pregnant women and young children. Alarmingly, as many as 1 in 6 American women have enough mercury in their bodies to put a baby at risk. That means that over 300,000 babies are born each year at risk of mercury poisoning.

Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury pollution in the United States, accounting for over 33 tons of this toxin being pumped into our air each year. Mercury poisoning can occur by eating contaminated fish, which absorb the toxin in polluted waterways, brought down by rain.

For more information about mercury or about local events, visit www.sierraclub.org/mercury.

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