Wednesday, March 16, 2011

EPA Proposes First National Standard for Mercury Pollution from Power Plants

EPA Proposes First National Standard for Mercury Pollution from Power Plants
“Mercury and Air Toxics Standards” Represent One of Strongest Health Protections from Air Pollution Since Passage of Clean Air Act
WASHINGTONIn response to a court deadline, today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first-ever national standards for mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from power plants.  The new Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards – which eliminate 20 years of uncertainty across industry – would require many power plants to install widely available, proven pollution control technologies to cut harmful emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases, while preventing as many as 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks a year. The new proposed standards would also provide particular health benefits for children, preventing 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and about 11,000 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children each year. The proposed standards would also avert over 12,000 emergency room visits and hospital admissions and 850,000 fewer days of work missed due to illness.
This rule will provide employment for thousands, by supporting 31,000 short-term construction jobs and 9,000 long-term utility jobs.
“Today’s announcement is 20 years in the making, and is a significant milestone in the Clean Air Act’s already unprecedented record of ensuring our children are protected from the damaging effects of toxic air pollution,”  said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “With the help of existing technologies, we will be able to take reasonable steps that will provide dramatic protections to our children and loved ones, preventing premature deaths, heart attacks, and asthma attacks.”
Toxic air pollutants like mercury from coal- and oil-fired power plants have been shown to cause neurological damage, including lower IQ, in children exposed in the womb and during early development.  The standards also address emissions of other toxic metals linked with cancer such as arsenic, chromium and nickel.  Mercury and many of the other toxic pollutants also damage the environment and pollute our nation’s lakes, streams, and fish. In addition, cutting these toxic pollutants also reduces fine particle pollution, which causes premature death, heart disease, workdays lost to illness, and asthma.
"The American Lung Association applauds the release of this sensible public health measure.  When it becomes final, the cleanup rule that the EPA is putting forward today will save lives, protect the health of millions of Americans and finally bring about an action that is 20 years overdue. This must happen,” said Charles D. Connor, president and CEO of the American Lung Association.
Power plants are the largest remaining source of several toxic air pollutants – responsible for half of mercury and over half of acid gas emissions in the United States.  In the power sector alone, coal-fired power plants are responsible for 99 percent of mercury emissions. Currently, more than half of all coal-fired power plants already deploy the widely available pollution control technologies that allow them to meet these important standards. Once final, these standards will ensure the remaining coal-fired plants, roughly 44 percent, take similar steps to decrease dangerous pollutants.
The updated standards will provide a first-ever level playing field for all power plants across the country, ensure that they play by the same rules, and provide more certainty to business.  The proposed rule provides up to 4 years for facilities to meet the standards and, once fully implemented, will prevent 91 percent of mercury in coal from being released to the air.
More than 20 years ago, the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments mandated that EPA require control of toxic air pollutants including mercury.  Since then, EPA has taken action to reduce mercury emissions from many high-emitting sources – however, there is still no national standard for mercury emissions from power plants.  Today’s announcement is long awaited, coming 11 years after EPA announced it would set such limits for power plants, and following a February, 2008 court decision that struck down the previous Administration's mercury rule.  In October, 2009, EPA entered into a consent decree that required a proposal to be signed by March 16, 2011, and a final rule to be completed by November, 2011.
The proposed Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are in keeping with President Obama’s Executive Order on regulatory reform.   They are based on the latest data and provide industry significant flexibility in implementation through a phased-in approach and use of already existing technologies.  
The proposed standards also ensure that public health and economic benefits far outweigh costs of implementation.   EPA estimates that for every dollar spent to reduce pollution from power plants, the American public and American businesses will see up to $13 in health and economic benefits. The total health and economic benefits of this standard are estimated to be as much as $140 billion annually. 
Also in keeping with the President’s Executive Order, the proposed standard puts a premium on important input and feedback from stakeholders to inform any final standard.  The public comment period, which will last sixty days from posting to the Federal Register, will allow stakeholders including the public, industry and public health communities, to provide important input and feedback, ensuring that any final standard maximizes public health benefits while minimizing costs.
As part of the public comment process, EPA will also hold public hearings on this proposed rule. Additional details on these events will be announced at a future date.
 Media Contact:
Margot Perez-Sullivan,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Working to Level the Playing Field for Social Equity, Justice and the Environment

For More Information, Contact Mike Thornton
Social Equity Strategies (SES)

Working to Level the Playing Field for Social Equity, Justice and the Environment

Sacramento CA March 14th 2011

On March 1st, 2011, former KVMR-FM News Director and Sierra Fund Organizer Mike Thornton created Social Equity Strategies (, a media consulting and public relations firm designed to assist organizations working on social equity and justice, environmental justice and environmental issues in the Sacramento and Northern Sierra regions of California. Social Equity Strategies assists organizations with crafting "Winning Communications Strategies," garnering positive media coverage for their causes and increasing positive name recognition for their organizations.

"There are many great organizations doing important work on a myriad of issues related to social and environmental justice as well as striving for solutions to these issues that achieve social equity,” says consultant, Mike Thornton. "Most of these organizations are relatively small and don't have the staff, time and/or skills to promote the great work they're doing. Sometimes, as well, these organizations haven't really considered the importance, to their work, of getting positive media coverage. More broadly, increasing positive name recognition with the general public can not only help them achieve their programmatic goals and objectives, but in can also have a positive impact on fundraising, membership, board of directors recruitment and attracting qualified staff."

"I have nearly 30 years of experience working in social services, journalism, community organizing and advocacy. Along the way, I've had the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the best people in all of these fields." says Thornton. "Social Equity Strategies is an opportunity to put this experience to work in the service of any number of good causes. In addition it's a way to play a role in helping to build a much needed ‘progressive infrastructure.’ Equity opponents have spent the last 40 years building up an interlocking network of funders, think tanks, media outlets and supporters who work in concert to promote and enact policies that hurt many, while richly benefiting an elite minority. We need a counter movement to take back the initiative and provide an alternative narrative. Policies that are based in progressive values are better for America and the world as a whole. We can make this case, not by ‘moving to the middle,’ but by clearly articulating what we believe in and why we believe in it.”

Social Equity Strategies offers project centered consultation services and communication strategy workshops. For more information visit the Social Equity Strategies website or email

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

“Don’t defund affordable housing”

An important event happening at the State capital tomorrow (Thursday) at Noon

March 8th, 2011
For More Information Contact
Mike Thornton
530-262-7335 (Cell)
Media Advisory
“Don’t defund affordable housing”

Where: South Steps California State Capital, Sacramento, CA.
When: 12:00PM, March 9th 2011
Visuals: 50 red tents surrounding a pyramid of sleeping bags
Interviews Available: Affordable Housing Residents, Former and Current Homeless Persons, Housing Activists and Advocates
Sacramento Housing Alliance

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Role of Community Radio

There's a good discussion of how a community radio station should handle racist commentaries, going on at Jeff Pelline's Sierra Foothills Report
This has to do with the radio station I was once News and Public Affairs Director at, KVMR-FM in Nevada City CA.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Officially registered to do business with the State of California as a few minutes ago.
It's actually a relatively easy process and I suggest that any and all progressive business folks do so!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

White House Internship Program

This came in from Ridership for the Masses in Sacramento today.
It would be great if we could get some "real" future "leaders" to apply and (hopefully) get accepted!!

Here's the info:

The application deadline for the White House Internship Program’s fall 2011 session is Sunday, March 13. Please take the time to think of five future young leaders you believe would serve as great White House Interns, and personally encourage them to apply. Below is more information that might be helpful to prospective White House Interns:

- Check out this blog from a former White House intern with a disability:

- Visit the White House Internship website:

- Apply to the White House Internship program:

- Learn more about the selection process:

A White House Internship provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills. This hands-on program is designed to mentor and cultivate today’s young leaders, strengthen their understanding of the Executive Office of the President and prepare them for future public service involvement.

Please encourage all eligible young leaders to take advantage of this incredible opportunity!
The White House · 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW · Washington DC 20500 · 202-456-1111