EPA prepares second overhaul of power plant rules

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing a second overhaul to the way coal-fired power plants are re...

Posted: Aug 30, 2018 2:07 PM
Updated: Aug 30, 2018 2:07 PM

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing a second overhaul to the way coal-fired power plants are regulated, a change to the Obama-era rule limiting mercury emissions that environmentalists have supported.

It follows the agency's proposal last week to shift the regulation of power plant carbon dioxide emissions from the federal government to states. The administration's Affordable Clean Energy rule would replace the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, a central part of its efforts to combat climate change.

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Details of the mercury rule have not been released, but agency spokeswoman Molly Block said the proposal "will soon begin the interagency review process," which "typically takes between 60 to 90 days." After that, the proposal will be made public and the agency will accept public comments, she said.

The current Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule requires coal- and oil-fired power plants to reduce emissions of mercury, as well as arsenic, acid gas, cyanide, nickel, and selenium, which are linked to various cancers and diseases. It was finalized by the Obama administration in 2011 after a federal court struck down the Bush administration's regulation. Challenges to the Obama administration's rule eventually reached the Supreme Court, which largely upheld it.

The EPA statement specifically noted it is considering "whether and how to account for co-benefits," suggesting it is re-evaluating the Obama administration's justification that reduced pollution leads to decreased health care spending. That analysis had estimated $3 to $9 in savings for every dollar spent.

Mercury is a neurotoxin dangerous even in small doses, and is considered by the World Health Organization to be one of the top 10 chemicals "of major public health concern."

"Mercury may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes," according to the WHO. It can also impact the development of unborn babies and young children.

The largest industrial source of mercury pollution is power plants, according to the EPA.

News of the proposal prompted rebuke from environmentalists.

Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware and critic of the administration's environmental policy, called the proposal "particularly egregious, even by Trump standards." He recently proposed legislation to create a nationwide monitoring system for mercury.

Mandy Warner of the Environmental Defense Fund called the current rules "established and successful," and pointed to Obama administration projections that the rule would save between 4,200 and 11,000 lives every year.

Block, the EPA spokeswoman, said the "EPA knows these issues are of importance to the regulated community and the public at large and is committed to a thoughtful and transparent regulatory process in addressing them."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 113876

Reported Deaths: 3238
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7894177
DeSoto693279
Harrison512983
Jackson450384
Rankin389486
Madison381293
Lee351479
Forrest300778
Jones289184
Washington256499
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Neshoba1842111
Lowndes178362
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Sunflower160949
Warren154355
Monroe148172
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Marshall141229
Lincoln138957
Pike138256
Copiah136936
Coahoma124936
Scott124929
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Attala79026
Clarke74351
Clay68421
Jasper67917
Walthall63827
Calhoun62212
Noxubee59617
Smith59116
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Claiborne53716
Tunica52917
Yalobusha52614
Lawrence51214
Perry48723
Carroll48012
Greene47318
Stone46414
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Amite42113
Quitman4196
Jefferson Davis40511
Webster37013
Wilkinson33720
Benton3335
Kemper32215
Sharkey28314
Jefferson27510
Franklin2403
Choctaw2056
Issaquena1074
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 155915

Reported Deaths: 2674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22988375
Mobile16788315
Tuscaloosa10235140
Montgomery9978197
Madison922894
Shelby727463
Baldwin661569
Lee651765
Marshall437249
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Morgan407135
Houston371734
DeKalb336029
Elmore317353
St. Clair289142
Limestone279730
Walker275593
Talladega263635
Cullman239925
Lauderdale218042
Jackson212515
Franklin203231
Autauga203030
Colbert198731
Russell19283
Blount191125
Dallas186327
Chilton185832
Coffee173211
Escambia172230
Covington171429
Dale166551
Chambers134343
Clarke133617
Pike132713
Tallapoosa131387
Marion107129
Barbour10129
Butler100240
Marengo100222
Winston91913
Geneva8617
Lawrence83732
Pickens83618
Bibb82514
Randolph82016
Hale75830
Clay73612
Washington73412
Cherokee73114
Lowndes70428
Monroe64510
Henry6436
Bullock63917
Crenshaw60330
Perry5856
Fayette56913
Wilcox56412
Conecuh56013
Cleburne5518
Macon53020
Lamar4745
Sumter47221
Choctaw39012
Greene34216
Coosa2033
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