Biden Administration Weakened to Reinstate Mercury Pollution Rules

“Solid science makes it clear that we need to limit mercury and toxins in the air to protect children and vulnerable communities from dangerous pollution,” said EPA administrator Michael Reagan. “The EPA is committed to aggressively reducing pollution from the energy sector so that all people, regardless of zip code or pocket money, can breathe clean air and live healthy and productive lives.”

EPA officials had completed work to reinstate the mercury policy when they sent it to the White House for review last fall. However, as President Biden sought support for the climate and social policy bill known as Build Back Better, administration officials suspended policy, fearing that the policy would anger the industry and lawmakers, according to two people speaking on the matter. state of being anonymous

After talks on Build Back Better collapsed in December, administration officials have decided to move forward with mercury policy, while Congressional Democrats are trying to save the law.

Environmental advocates praised the renewed implementation of the mercury rule, the first federal standard that required power plants to install expensive “scavenger” technology to reduce neurotoxin emissions. On time Trump administration’s comebackmany environmental law experts saw this as the first step towards eliminating other pollution limits.

“This was all an effort by the Trump administration to limit future regulation, to make it harder for the industry to regulate,” said Matthew Davis, a former EPA official who helped write the mercury rule and later partly left the government. because the Trump administration tried to weaken it. Mr. Davis now works for the Conservative Voters Union, an advocacy group.

When the Obama administration created the mercury rule, it estimated it would cost the industry $9.6 billion a year, making it the most expensive clean air regulation in history. He also valued the direct public health benefits of reducing the amount of mercury to $6 million a year – less than it cost the industry.

But he then enumerated the “co-benefits” of installing the scrubbers: reductions in other pollutants, including sulfur dioxide and fine particulate soot, which are linked to heart, brain, lung and respiratory diseases. These related benefits are estimated to be worth $80 billion over five years, including preventing 4,700 heart attacks, 130,000 asthma attacks and 11,000 premature deaths annually.

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