Sunday, December 17, 2023
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HomePRESS RELEASEBiden EPA revives justification for coal utility mercury rule

Biden EPA revives justification for coal utility mercury rule

Biden EPA revives justification for coal utility mercury rule

The Environmental Protection Agency a proposed rule restoring the legal foundation for limiting coal-fired power plants’ mercury emissions under the Clean Air Act, a finding the Trump administration sought to axe.

The rule reinstates the agency’s finding that it is “appropriate and necessary” for EPA to regulate power plant emissions using authority established in the 1990 amendments to the landmark air law. The Obama EPA in 2011 finalized the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS, rule which is credited with dramatically reducing mercury and other emissions from coal-fired utilities.

“This decision returns sanity and science to EPA’s efforts protecting children and other vulnerable populations from extremely dangerous pollution like mercury,” said EWG President Ken Cook.

“Although reversing the insidious anti-health policies of the former Trump administration should be celebrated, it’s a stark reminder of what happens when critical environmental safeguards are eviscerated and scientific consensus is rejected just to placate the coal industry,” Cook said.

The MATS rule required electric utilities that burn coal and oil to install technologies to cut emissions of mercury and other heavy metal air pollutants, including arsenic.

Utilities estimated the cost of the pollution-trapping equipment at around $18 billion. But it was money well spent: The rule had an almost immediate impact on air quality, with a  70 percent drop in mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. The EPA estimated the health benefits of the rule from $37 billion to $90 billion every year.

The states that saw the most significant decreases in mercury emissions because of the Obama rule include those that rely heavily on electricity generated from coal-fired power plants: Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.

The Trump administration in 2020 scrapped the appropriate and necessary finding, and the Biden EPA’s rule starts the process of reversing that decision. The Trump EPA did not scrap the MATS rule itself, but observers had feared that revoking the appropriate and necessary finding was a prelude to an attempt to undo the entire emissions rule.

#Biden EPA #revives justification #coal utility

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