EPA proposal would put federal mercury rules on shakier legal ground

Changing how benefits are calculated could undercut the justification for mercury standards and other rules.

Photo by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency / Flickr

WASHINGTON, DC — “The Environmental Protection Agency announced Dec. 27 that it would leave the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rules in place. However, new number-crunching would undermine the justification for the rule.

What would the proposed rule change do?

The EPA would recalculate the costs and benefits of the rules, drastically lowering the estimated benefits. The agency determined in 2016 that the standards’ quantifiable benefits ranged from $33 billion to $90 billion annually. Under the new proposal, those benefits would be adjusted to about $4 million to $6 million annually.

Much of that difference came from so-called co-benefits — positive health outcomes and other consequences that result as reductions in one type of contaminant, such as mercury, necessarily reduce other pollution as well.”

— Kathianne M Kowalski, Midwest Energy News

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