January 31, 2022
ELPC is pleased by the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent finding that it is “appropriate and necessary” to regulate mercury and other hazardous air pollutants emitted by power plants. This finding re-affirms the findings EPA previous made in 2012 and 2016 and rescinds the Trump Administration’s misguided 2020 reversal of the prior findings.
“Regulation of hazardous pollutants such as mercury is especially important here in the Great Lakes,” said ELPC Staff Attorney Ann Jaworski. “Many of us still live near coal-fired power plants. We live, work, and play on lakes and rivers that carry mercury-based fish consumption advisories.”
The nation’s coal and oil-fired power plants emit many hazardous air pollutants like mercury, lead, arsenic, and acid gases. Those pollutants harm human health when people breathe them in, and mercury pollution also settles on surface waters, such as the Great Lakes, and smaller lakes and streams where it is ingested by fish and by humans who eat those fish. EPA’s finding makes clear that the regulations limiting this pollution are here to stay.
EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) have successfully reduced power plant emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants since they were implemented in 2012. The prior administration’s determination that it was not “appropriate and necessary” to regulate those pollutants injected unnecessary uncertainty into a set of standards that has been cost-effectively reducing dangerous air pollution for nearly a decade.
“We hope EPA will build on this restored finding in the future by strengthening these important public health protections,” Jaworski said.