EPA targets Obama crackdown on mercury from coal plants

EPA targets Obama crackdown on mercury from coal plants

EPA targets Obama crackdown on mercury from coal plants

Under the direction of acting administrator Andrew Wheeler, the EPA is now questioning whether it was appropriate to include these additional benefits.

A study published this month by Harvard University's School of Public Health said coal-fired power plants are the top source of mercury in the United States, accounting for almost half of mercury emissions in 2015. Mercury harms the developing nervous systems of children and causes other severe health damage.

Although the EPA's proposal does not eliminate the regulations outright, it sets the stage for weakening them altogether, particularly, as The New York Times observes, in weakening "the ability of the E.P.A.to impose new regulations in the future by adjusting the way the agency measures the benefits of curbing pollutants, giving less weight to the potential health gains".

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Utilities' demand for US coal is projected to fall further this year, by around 2.5 percent to 648.2 million short tons, the lowest in 35 years, according to the EIA. 'The rule itself forced coal plant shutdowns, but they aren't coming back'.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule to change the way the government calculates benefits of restricting mercury emissions from coal plants.

"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".

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The proposal, which now goes up for public comment before any final administration approval, would leave the current mercury regulation in place.

Friday's move is the latest by the Trump administration that changes estimates of the costs and payoffs of regulations as part of an overhaul of Obama-era environmental protections.

In an announcement Friday, the EPA proposes what would be another Trump administration rollback of federal enforcement under the Clean Air Act.

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

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