EPA proposes new rule that could allow fewer restrictions on toxins

Posted at 9:36 AM, Dec 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-29 09:36:10-05

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.

“After properly evaluating the cost to coal- and oil-fired power plants of complying with the MATS rule (costs that the Obama Administration estimated range from $7.4 to $9.6 billion annually) and the benefits attributable to regulating hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions from these power plants (benefits that range from $4 to $6 million annually) — as EPA was directed to do by the U.S. Supreme Court — the Agency proposes to determine that it is not ‘appropriate and necessary’ to regulate HAP emissions from power plants under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act,” a news release from the EPA said on Friday.

The New York Times previously reported the proposed rule.

According to the Times reporting, the new proposed rule would change the way the EPA determines the benefits of limiting different types of emissions, potentially making it more difficult in the future for the agency to create new regulations. The new proposal does not look to repeal the rule.

Groups were quick to criticize the move, including the Environmental Law and Policy Center, as well as Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Pallone tweeted: “In the dark of a government shutdown, EPA is once again trying to hide shameful actions that harm the health of all Americans.”

Howard Learner, the executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, added he felt the decision would threaten famous American waters.

“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.

Learner added that the proposal “undermines MATS by retroactively recalculating the costs and benefits of the rule, which most utilities have already fully implemented. 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.”

The proposal was issued on Thursday, according to the news release, and there will be a public comment period for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.