Biden Reviving Obama Mercury Rules

Since his Build Back Better legislation is going nowhere at the moment, the Biden administration is moving forward to revive Obama era rules regarding the interpretation of ‘benefits’ of implementing mercury and air toxics standards (MATS) for power plant pollution. Trump’s administration had changed the EPA’s interpretation of ‘benefits’ in their cost/benefit analysis to only include the direct impact on public health of reducing mercury alone, as opposed to including the much larger co-benefits to public health of also reducing other pollutants like fine particles, which will come from cleaning power plant exhaust sufficiently to meet the Mercury standards. The Trump administration thus stalled implementation of the MATS.

MATS would force the clean up of the exhaust of existing coal plants. Some of which still operate with zero pollution control technology on their smokestacks. It is an expensive proposition to upgrade a coal plant’s exhaust to the standards required by MATS, and given the probability of future regulation of CO2 emissions from coal plants, the most economic decision will be to shut down those old, grossly polluting, dinosaur plants once and for all.

Retiring coal plants will reduce heat trapping CO2 emissions compared to whatever technology replaces them. The health benefits of reducing pollution will improve the health of millions of people in the US who suffer from asthma, heart disease or other illness related to air pollution, and many will live longer, more productive lives.

Article in the NY Times on the issue:…