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Council Asks Washington to Protect Air Quality Standards

For Immediate Release

March 26, 2019

Resolution Urges Federal Government to Defend the Clean Air Act


[COLUMBUS – OH] Columbus City Council is asking the federal government to protect our environment and defend the Clean Air Act. Councilmember Emmanuel Remy presented resolution 0091X-2019 during the March 25, 2019, Council meeting urging the United States Environmental Protection Agency to maintain the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and the regulation of coal and oil-burning power plants.

“In response to an EPA proposal to potentially reduce or eliminate standards regarding mercury emissions and other airborne toxins, this resolution urges the EPA to maintain standards at current levels,” said Councilmember Remy.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is asking Congress to eliminate 47 programs in fiscal year 2019 and deeply slash funding for EPA’s core missions. The proposed 23% budget cut will mean more pollution and serious threats to health.

“This resolution aims to increase public awareness of the proposed rule change. Further, by passing this resolution we are stating to the EPA that the City of Columbus cares about the health and wellbeing of our residents and that any change in the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards that increases pollution is not a change we support,” Remy continued.

Residents can comment on the Proposed Revised Mercury and Air Toxics Standards on the EPA comment submission page. The comment period for the proposed rule change ends on April 8, 2019.

According to the EPA website, the current limits have reduced the release of mercury and other hazardous pollution created as a by-product of coal- and oil-burning power plants into the environment by more than 90%. The Ohio State University Chapter of Defend Our Future states, this reduction in mercury emissions have resulted in 4,500 fewer cases of chronic bronchitis, 11,000 fewer cases of acute bronchitis and 220,000 fewer cases of respiratory symptoms per year. The economic impact is remarkable with 850,000 fewer missed workdays and $90 billion in benefits from improved national health.  

Defend Our Future, a project of the Environmental Defense Fund is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to empowering young people of all political persuasions who are interested in advancing climate change and clean energy solutions that grow our economy and protect the world for future generations. For more information visit

“With the federal government asleep at the wheel, it is essential that cities like Columbus rise up in defense of the public health and reject the senseless rollback of standards that were designed to protect us. This is our chance to make our voices heard and let the current administration know that we will not sit idly by and allow coal and oil-burning power plants dump hazardous pollutants and toxins into the air we breathe and the water we drink,” said Alden Shepherd, a Defend Our Future intern at the Ohio State University.     

In 2011, the EPA established MATS with the intention to limit the release of mercury and other hazardous pollution created as a by-product of coal- and oil-burning power plants. Power plants are responsible for 50% of mercury emissions, more than 50% of acid gas emissions and 25% of toxic metal emissions in the United States. Coal-fired power plants emit 99% of mercury emissions in the United States each year.

“This is about the safety of our families and the future of our city, state, and country. Columbus City Council urges the US EPA to keep Mercury and Air Toxics Standards at their current levels,” Remy concluded.