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Santorum Says EPA’s Mercury Rule Hurts ‘Blue-Collar Americans,’ But Doesn’t Mention Health Benefits

By Rebecca Leber on January 4, 2012 at 10:15 am

"Santorum Says EPA’s Mercury Rule Hurts ‘Blue-Collar Americans,’ But Doesn’t Mention Health Benefits"

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As a climate-denier, GOP candidate Rick Santorum’s rise to a near-tie with Mitt Romney in Iowa does not leave much hope for the environment. The candidate has a long-standing relationship with the coal and fracking industry as a well-paid consultant for a coal mining company, Consol Energy Inc., which has donated $8,500 to his campaign.

Therefore, it isn’t a surprise that on Monday, Santorum attacked a new Environmental Protection Agency toxics rule that prevents mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants, claiming it represents the EPA’s philosophy of “We hate carbon, we hate fossil fuels, we hate blue-collar Americans who work in those area”:

He specifically took issue with the agency’s cost-benefit analysis, calling it “absolutely ridiculous” and “not based on any kind of science.”

But the EPA’s cost-benefit analysis cites peer-reviewed studies extensively in its 510-page “Regulatory Impact Analysis of the Final Mercury and Air Toxics Standards,” which has been two decades in the making.

What Santorum didn’t mention is how uncontrolled mercury pollution has harmed Americans for decades. The EPA’s peer-reviewed analysis found the mercury rule would prevent 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 asthma attacks annually. Economically, the health benefits outweigh the costs of a few dozen old plant closures — every dollar spent on reducing the pollution would save up to $9 in health benefits.

His standing is also at odds with faith-based groups, according to Media Matters: “Over 100 evangelical leaders have signed a letter calling for stricter mercury regulations, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has spoken out in favor of tougher emissions standards. Catholics United publicly welcomed the EPA’s rule.” Unlike these groups, Santorum is willing to risk blue-collar Americans’ health to protect the coal industry.

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