Trump’s EPA To Weaken Rule Limiting Coal Plant Mercury Emissions

Trump’s EPA To Weaken Rule Limiting Coal Plant Mercury Emissions”

The Environmental Protection Agency, in a proposed reversal of yet another Obama-era rule, said rules preventing coal-fired power plants from releasing mercury should not be considered "appropriate and necessary".

The agency proposed "to determine that it is not "appropriate and necessary" to regulate HAP (hazardous air pollutant) emissions from power plants under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act".

The EPA proposal Friday would be another administration rollback of federal enforcement under the Clean Air Act.

"I just think it's a little fuzzy math when you say, 'Reduce mercury and we have all these other benefits over here, ' as the shiny object", Wheeler told the Post last fall.

The Obama administration also broadly accepted that it's hard to put a specific dollar-figure on some health benefits - for instance, avoiding lost IQ points in infants (or other fetal harm), which has been linked to pregnant women eating mercury-contaminated fish. In a draft of its proposed rule (PDF), Trump's EPA said that the Obama-era EPA had erred by quantifying the co-benefits of reducing other, non-mercury pollutants in its analysis.

"The Trump EPA's proposal to weaken mercury and air toxics pollution reduction standards threatens children's health and the Great Lakes", he said in a statement.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule has been in place for years, and energy companies that own coal-fired power plants are already in compliance.

A proposal Friday from the Environmental Protection Agency challenges the basis for the Obama regulation. Mercury is a neurotoxin that can damage the brain and nervous system in young children, leading to lower IQ and impaired motor skills.

The mercury regulation also costs the coal industry $9.6 billion annually, making it among the most expensive regulations the EPA has ever had to enforce.

He and other opponents of the move said the Trump administration was playing with numbers, ignoring what Carper said were clear health, environmental and economic benefits to come up with a bottom line that suited the administration's deregulatory aims.

Coming one week into a government shutdown, and in the lull between Christmas and New Year, 'this low-key announcement shouldn't fool anyone - it is a big deal, with significant implications, ' McCabe said.

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