USA limits on mercury pollution 'too costly'

Mindy Sparks
December 29, 2018

Andrew Wheeler, the acting EPA administration signed the proposal. Coal-fired power plants are the largest single source of mercury pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering backing off of its regulation of toxic mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

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.

Environmental groups say the regulation has contributed to and 85 per cent reduction in mercury emissions in the last decade.

Mercury causes brain damage, learning disabilities and other birth defects in children, among other harm.

The industry had challenged a 2016 conclusion by Obama's EPA that the rule was justified because savings to US consumers on healthcare costs would exceed compliance costs.

EPA said it was "proposing that it is not "appropriate and necessary" to regulate HAP (Hazardous Air Pollution) emissions from coal and oil-fired power plants. because the costs of such regulation grossly outweigh the quantified HAP benefits".

The proposal will be up for 60 days of public comment before a final ruling goes into effect. Any such change would trigger new rounds in what have already been years of court battles over regulating mercury pollution from coal plants. It's the latest administration effort on behalf of the country's coal industry.

While many power companies "actually lobbied the administration to leave" the rule in place, Holmstead said, "the Trump folks couldn't bring themselves to defend" the previous administration's conclusion that the rule was "appropriate and necessary".

The National Mining Association praised the move, saying the mercury regulations are "punitive" and "massively unbalanced".

Sen. Tom Carper of DE, the top Democrat on the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, condemned the Trump administration's move.

The EPA has "decided to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory" after the successful cleanup of toxins from the country's coal-plant smokestacks, Carper said.

Since August, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been reconsidering the justification for the rule.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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