One of the first issues I worked on when I started at Earthjustice in 2004 was a lawsuit we filed to compel the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action on mercury and other toxic air pollution from cement kilns. This was during the Bush years, and despite winning in court, the EPA did next to nothing to abide by the law and clean up the air for dozens of communities living around these big polluters.
Today, we all finally have reason to celebrate. After thousands of e-mails, dozens of press releases, phone calls, meetings and your support, the EPA announced plans that will cut more than 16,000 pounds of mercury from our nation's cement kilns every year, starting in 2013. The rule also cuts thousands of pounds of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride and other pollution, and promises to prevent up to 2,500 premature deaths each year.
From the Aug. 9 press release:
It is a great victory that I can honestly say would not have been possible were it not for your actions to e-mail the EPA, call their offices, attend public hearings and maintain a strong drumbeat that we want clean air and we deserve a healthier environment. Earthjustice attorneys are proud to represent in court the reasons federal agencies must follow the law. But it's often when these agencies begin to hear directly from the public that change really starts to happen. So take a deep breath and say congratulations to all of us on a great clean air victory. We certainly deserve it.
This article was written for Earthjustice and was reprinted with permission.