January 19, 2019

U.S. limits on mercury pollution 'too costly'

30 December 2018, 10:15 | Edward Lowe

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

EPA proposes easing regulation of mercury from coal plants

"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.

Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association, praised the new rule, calling the MATS "prior government overreach" and "perhaps the largest regulatory accounting fraud perpetrated on American consumers". Mercury harms the developing nervous systems of children and causes other severe health damage.

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. Indeed, when the rule went into full effect in 2015, 30 percent of coal plant closures were tied to the cost of compliance with the rule.

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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. They noted that billions of dollars in investments for anti-pollution equipment have already been made, and costs are being recovered from electricity customers through regulated pricing.

Under the Obama administration, The Washington Post reports, the EPA calculated that limiting mercury would create $6 million in health benefits annually, a number much lower than the $9.6 billion it's estimated to cost companies to comply to the regulations each year.

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.

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The officials said that medical workers had carried out new medical exams of nearly all the children in the care of the U.S. Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer, soon-to-be House Majority Leader, slammed the White House approach.

"Reworking the mercury rule, which the E.P.A. considers the priciest clean air regulation ever put forth in terms of annual cost to industry, would represent a victory for the coal industry, and in particular for Robert E. Murray, an important former client of Mr. Wheeler's from his days as a lobbyist".

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.

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