Science

EPA says regulation of mercury emissions not "appropriate and necessary"

EPA says regulation of mercury emissions not

Overall, environmental groups say, federal and state efforts have cut mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by 85 percent in roughly the last decade.

Groups were quick to criticize the move, including the Environmental Law and Policy Center, as well as Democratic Rep. But it further justified the regulation by citing an additional $80 billion in health benefits a year by, among other things, preventing the 11,000 premature deaths.

The vast majority of utility companies, which estimate they have already spent about $18 billion installing clean-air technology since the rule was imposed, have said the proposed changes are now of little benefit to them and have urged the Trump administration to leave the measure in place.

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's a former EPA air administrator now with Bracewell LLP, which represents energy industry clients. On Friday, Holmstead said the agency "managed to walk a very fine line" by revising a justification for the rule while leaving pollution protections in place.

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'.




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

"It's not unreasonable to expect that if the standards go away there will be some number of utilities that will choose to no longer operate pollution controls that they've installed", says Janet McCabe, former acting assistant administrator of the Office of Air and Radiation at EPA during the Obama administration. The standards help meet the country's commitments under the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Coal power plants in this country are the largest single manmade source of mercury pollutants, which enters the food chain through fish and other items that people consume. Today, coal plant closures continue not because of the MATS rule but because coal can't compete with cheaper and relatively cleaner natural gas.

USA 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.

In December the administration proposed a revision that would allow coal-fired generators to emit more Carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity generated.

The public will have 60 days to comment on it before a final rule is issued.


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