EPA takes aim at Obama-era regulation of mercury at coal plants

EPA takes aim at Obama-era regulation of mercury at coal plants

EPA takes aim at Obama-era regulation of mercury at coal plants

The Trump administration will consider abolishing a regulation that has helped to dramatically reduce mercury pollution from coal-fired power stations, saying the costs outweigh the health benefits. The rule places limits on the amount of mercury that a power plant can emit.

The agency's reassessment of an earlier 2016 endorsement showed that complying with MATS cost the government between $7.4 billion to $9.6 billion (€6.5 billion to €8.4 billion) every year, but only brought in up to $6 million in measurable health benefits.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it was proposing new rules regarding the regulation of hazardous air pollutants, potentially making way for fewer restrictions on various pollutants in the future. The Obama administration estimated that the measure would prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths from asthma, other respiratory diseases or heart attacks. "The misguided proposed changes leave MATS legally vulnerable and foolishly make it harder to strengthen mercury pollution reduction standards in the future to better protect children's and women's health, and Great Lakes fisheries".

A proposal Friday from the Environmental Protection Agency challenges the basis for the Obama regulation.

In a statement, the EPA said Friday the administration was "providing regulatory certainty" by more accurately estimating the costs and benefits of the Obama administration crackdown on mercury and other toxic emissions from smokestacks.

The Trump administration Friday announced a plan created to make it easier for coal-fired power plants, after almost a decade of restrictions, to once again release mercury and other pollutants linked to developmental disorders and respiratory illnesses into the atmosphere.

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It took 21 years before the EPA finalized the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for coal-fired power plants.

Trump's industry allies, including Robert Murray, CEO of private coal mining giant Murray Energy Corp, had complained that the MATS rule contributed to the demise of the coal business by triggering hundreds of coal-fired power plant shutdowns and driving coal demand to its lowest in decades.

A proposal by acting EPA Administrator, Andrew R. Wheeler, signed yesterday and submitted by the the EPA would lay the ground work for repealing Mercury and Air Toxics Standards first enacted in 2011 according to the New York Times.

US coal-fired power generation has fallen more than 40 percent since a peak in 2007, while natural gas-fired generation soared by about the same amount, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The proposal will be up for 60 days of public comment before a final ruling goes into effect.

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