clearn.png
Friday November 27th, 2020 8:54PM

EPA targets Obama crackdown on mercury from coal plants

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration on Friday targeted an Obama-era regulation credited with helping dramatically reduce toxic mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants, saying the benefits to human health and the environment may not be worth the cost of the regulation.

The 2011 Obama administration rule, called the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, led to what electric utilities say was an $18 billion clean-up of mercury and other toxins from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants.

Overall, environmental groups say, federal and state efforts have cut mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by 85 percent in roughly the last decade.

Mercury causes brain damage, learning disabilities and other birth defects in children, among other harm. Coal power plants in this country are the largest single manmade source of mercury pollutants, which enters the food chain through fish and other items that people consume.

A proposal Friday from the Environmental Protection Agency challenges the basis for the Obama regulation. It calculates that the crackdown on mercury and other toxins from coal plants produced only a few million dollars a year in measurable health benefits and was not "appropriate and necessary" — a legal benchmark under the country's landmark Clean Air Act.

The proposal, which now goes up for public comment before any final administration approval, would leave the current mercury regulation in place.

However, the EPA said it will seek comment during a 60-day public-review period on whether "we would be obligated to rescind" the Obama-era rule if the agency adopts Friday's finding that the regulation was not appropriate and necessary. Any such change would trigger new rounds in what have already been years of court battles over regulating mercury pollution from coal plants.

Friday's move is the latest by the Trump administration that changes estimates of the costs and payoffs of regulations as part of an overhaul of Obama-era environmental protections.

It's also the administration's latest proposed move on behalf of the U.S. coal industry, which has been struggling in the face of competition from natural gas and other cheaper, cleaner forms of energy. The Trump administration in August proposed an overhaul for another Obama-era regulation that would have prodded electricity providers to get less of their energy from dirtier-burning coal plants.

In a statement, the EPA said Friday the administration was "providing regulatory certainty" by more accurately estimating the costs and benefits of the Obama administration crackdown on mercury and other toxic emissions from smokestacks.

Hal Quinn, head of the National Mining Association, charged in a statement Friday that the Obama administration had carried out "perhaps the largest regulatory accounting fraud perpetrated on American consumers" when it calculated that the broad health benefits to Americans would outweigh the cost of equipment upgrades by power providers.

Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, condemned the Trump administration's move.

The EPA has "decided to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory" after the successful clean-up of toxins from the country's coal-plant smokestacks, Carper said.

He and other opponents of the move said the Trump administration was playing with numbers, ignoring what Carper said were clear health, environmental and economic benefits to come up with a bottom line that suited the administration's deregulatory aims.

Janet McCabe, a former air-quality official in the Obama administration's EPA, called the proposal part of "the quiet dismantling of the regulatory framework" for the federal government's environmental protections.

Coming one week into a government shutdown, and in the lull between Christmas and New Year, "this low-key announcement shouldn't fool anyone — it is a big deal, with significant implications," McCabe said.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
NYC utility probes electric flash that lit sky in eerie blue
Utility Con Edison is working to figure out what caused a high-voltage equipment failure that unleashed an otherworldly flash of bright blue light in the night sky over New York City
1:45PM ( 12 minutes ago )
The Latest: WHO warns against Congo 'prolonged insecurity'
The Latest: WHO chief warns against 'prolonged insecurity' in Congo amid Ebola outbreak
1:32PM ( 26 minutes ago )
The Latest: Mexican president reacts to Trump with caution
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has reacted cautiously to a threat by President Donald Trump to close the border
1:28PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Protests as Congo leader warns of Ebola vote 'disaster'
Protests erupt as Congo's leader warns of 'disaster' if Sunday's vote is allowed in Ebola zone
1:07PM ( 51 minutes ago )
N. Carolina governor reshapes board amid congressional probe
North Carolina's governor is trying to move fast to reassemble the disbanding state elections board investigating ballot fraud allegations in a still-unresolved congressional race
12:47PM ( 1 hour ago )
Tesla names independent board members in SEC settlement
Tesla names 2 independent board members as part of settlement with US regulators
12:37PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
The Latest: Tips given to workers struggling due to shutdown
Government offers advice to federal workers experiencing financial problems because of partial shutdown
11:04AM ( 2 hours ago )
Police: California officer killing suspect in US illegally
Authorities are searching for a man believed to be living in the country illegally who they say gunned down a California police officer the day after Christmas, inflaming the nationwide debate on immigration
10:46AM ( 3 hours ago )
Acclaimed author Amos Oz dies at 79
Israeli media say renowned Israeli author Amos Oz has died at the age of 79. Oz, author of novels, prose and a widely acclaimed memoir, had suffered from cancer
10:26AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online National News
US stocks slide, erasing early gains as oil price falls
U.S. stocks are veering lower, giving back early gains as the market continues to be gripped by volatile trading
11:36AM ( 2 hours ago )
US pending home sales slipped 0.7 percent in November
US pending home sales drop 0.7 percent in November as would-be buyers struggle to afford homes
10:27AM ( 3 hours ago )
Italy's premier insists budget deal not dictated by EU
Italy's premier denies that the new budget was dictated by the European Commission, saying that he held firm on key points like the basic income and the rollbacks in an unpopular pension reform
10:04AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
Legal marijuana industry toasts banner year
The legal marijuana industry exploded in 2018, with legalization spreading in the U.S. and across Canada, billions invested in cannabis companies and a cannabis-based drug getting regulatory approval.
3:44PM ( 22 hours ago )
China ex-deputy intelligence chief given life sentence
China's former deputy intelligence chief has been sentenced to life in prison for corruption
6:52AM ( 1 day ago )
Legal marijuana industry had banner year in 2018
Marijuana industry had seminal year in 2018, with legalization spreading in the US and across Canada, billions invested in cannabis companies and even a cannabis-based drug getting regulatory approval
5:27AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Global stocks gain after Wall Street rally, Japan falls
Global stock markets rise after Wall Street's rally, Japan falls, oil prices rebound strongly
4:12AM ( 9 hours ago )
No aliens: NY transformer explosion lights sky, knocks power
New York police say a transformer has exploded at a Con Edison facility in Queens
3:46AM ( 10 hours ago )
Japan falls, other Asian stocks gain after Wall Street rally
Most Asian stock markets gain, Japan edges down after Wall Street rally
3:10AM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Not very merry: US stocks plunge before Christmas
President Donald Trump's attack on the Federal Reserve spooked financial markets on Christmas Eve, raising fears about an uncertain future should the White House try to undermine or remove the head of the U.S. central bank
6:58PM ( 3 days ago )
Idaho lab protects US infrastructure from cyber attacks
Workers at an Idaho lab are helping the U.S. catch up with threats by hackers to systems that operate energy pipelines, hydroelectric projects, drinking water systems and nuclear power plants across the country.
12:16PM ( 4 days ago )
Not very merry: US stocks slump ahead of Christmas holiday
U.S. stocks are sharply lower at midday, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average down more than 400 points and extending the market's losses after its worst week in more than seven years
12:02PM ( 4 days ago )
AP Business - Utilities
NYC utility probes electric flash that lit sky in eerie blue
Utility Con Edison is working to figure out what caused a high-voltage equipment failure that unleashed an otherworldly flash of bright blue light in the night sky over New York City
1:45PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Wild weather: Water rescues in South, heavy snow in Midwest
Intense rains across the Deep South and heavy snow in the Upper Midwest are making a mess for post-holiday travelers
1:38PM ( 24 minutes ago )
The Latest: WHO warns against Congo 'prolonged insecurity'
The Latest: WHO chief warns against 'prolonged insecurity' in Congo amid Ebola outbreak
1:32PM ( 30 minutes ago )
The Latest: Mexican president reacts to Trump with caution
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has reacted cautiously to a threat by President Donald Trump to close the border
1:28PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Officials: California officer killed by man in US illegally
For a third day, authorities are pursuing a man accused of killing a California officer during a traffic stop
1:26PM ( 36 minutes ago )