The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a change to how it calculates the benefits of key air pollution rules in December, stating that current regulations on mercury and other air pollution emissions from power plants are no longer “appropriate and necessary.” Environmental and health advocates are concerned that this new analysis could lead to a rollback of current regulations.
The proposal only considers the direct monetary benefits of the current emissions standards, rather than accounting for all of the health benefits associated with the rules. President Donald Trump’s EPA reports that adhering to the current rules would cost industry up to $9.6 billion annually with up to $6 million in annual benefits. In 2012, the EPA estimated those benefits at between $37 billion and $90 billion.
According to the Center for American Progress, the current regulations led to an 81 percent reduction in mercury emissions from 2011 to 2017. Mercury is among the top ten chemicals of highest public health concern, according to the World Health Organization.
Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated during his Senate confirmation hearing that he did not believe mercury-controlling equipment already installed in power plants would be removed. — By Jen Kirby