EPA targets Obama crackdown on mercury from coal plants

EPA targets Obama crackdown on mercury from coal plants

As his second year comes to a close, agencies have set the regulatory wheels in motion to weaken or repeal almost a dozen Obama-era restrictions on air and water pollution or planet-warming emissions of carbon dioxide, including a plan to reduce the number of waterways that are protected from pollutants and another making it easier for utilities to build new coal plants.

However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the clean-up produced only a few million dollars a year in measurable health benefits and was not "appropriate and necessary".

"I just think it's a little fuzzy math when you say, 'Reduce mercury and we have all these other benefits over here, ' as the shiny object", Wheeler told the Post last fall.

"The Trump Administration is providing regulatory certainty by transparently and accurately taking account of both costs and benefits", the EPA said in a news release Friday.

The public will have 60 days to comment on it before a final rule is issued.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule has been in place for years, and energy companies that own coal-fired power plants are already in compliance.

Malware disrupts Baltimore Sun Media print production
The attack seemed to have begun late Thursday night and by Friday had spread to crucial areas needed to publish the paper. The Union-Tribune, a former Tribune Publishing newspaper, still uses the company's production software.

The Trump administration Friday announced a plan created to make it easier for coal-fired power plants, after almost a decade of restrictions, to once again release mercury and other pollutants linked to developmental disorders and respiratory illnesses into the atmosphere.

"The Trump EPA's proposal to weaken mercury and air toxics pollution reduction standards threatens children's health and the Great Lakes", Executive Director Howard Learner of the Environmental Law and Policy Center said in a statement. Mercury emitted into the air can end up in soil and water, where it has "toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes", in addition to causing developmental defects in children and babies, according to the World Health Organization.

The EPA on Friday proposed a new rule that challenges the basis for the Obama regulation.

Sen. Tom Carper of DE, 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 cleanup of toxins from the country's coal-plant smokestacks, Carper said.

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.

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