National WIC Association

News Release: National WIC Association Opposes EPA’s Plan to Weaken Rules Limiting Air Pollution from Coal Power Plants

October 23, 2018

Increased emissions of mercury, lead, arsenic, and other toxic chemicals will harm brain development even before birth

WASHINGTON—The National WIC Association (NWA) joined 15 other health and medical organizations and more than two dozen medical professionals and health scientists in a statement issued today voicing concern about the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) intent to weaken public health protections from coal power pollution. The EPA recently proposed the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule, which would weaken limits on air pollution that can come from coal-burning power plants.

NWA is especially concerned about the impact of the proposed rule on the brain development of babies and children. A developing fetus is particularly vulnerable to exposure to toxic chemicals. Coal plants emit mercury, lead, arsenic, and other toxic chemicals that harm children’s brain development even before birth. The neurological harm from mercury alone is sufficient cause for concern. EPA’s proposed rule will weaken air pollution standards, resulting in increased emissions of these toxic chemicals and reversing course on the progress the United States has made for over a decade to protect children from life-altering exposure to mercury.

“Reversing clean air successes will damage moms’ and dads’ efforts to grow healthy young children. Families participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to improve pregnancy outcomes and child health. Like nutritious foods, clean air is essential to ensure that mothers deliver healthy babies and that children can grow, develop, and lead healthy lives. The last thing pregnant women and young children need is more toxic chemicals in the air,” said Rev. Douglas A. Greenaway, NWA’s President and CEO.

The statement reads, in part: “As medical professionals, health scientists, and healthcare organizations, we are greatly concerned about EPA’s proposal to weaken health protections from coal plant emissions. We are taking the unusual step of calling on President Trump and the EPA to reconsider and rescind the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule and maintain critical health-protection Mercury and Air Toxics Standards safeguards for coal plants.” The EPA’s proposed ACE Rule is to replace the Clean Power Plan, which reduced air pollution from power plants. The group’s statement notes that the ACE Rule is far weaker than the current plan.