EDF, Allies Formally Oppose “Unlawful, Arbitrary, and Senseless” Attack on Mercury and Air Toxics Standards

Groups File Comments Objecting to EPA Proposal to Undermine Critical Clean Air Protections

April 18, 2019
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – April 18, 2019) Environmental Defense Fund joined a broad coalition of health, environmental and community groups to file strenuous objections to the Trump administration’s attack on the foundations of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has proposed to reverse the finding underlying the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards – safeguards that are successfully protecting Americans from some of the most dangerous types of pollution, including mercury, which causes brain damage in babies, arsenic, lead, chromium and nickel, which cause cancer, and acid gases, which cause serious lung disease. EPA’s own estimates show the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths each year. Wheeler has proposed finding that regulating these toxic emissions is not “appropriate.”

In their comments filed with EPA, the groups call Wheeler’s proposal:

“[U]nlawful, arbitrary, and senseless; it is an exercise in selective myopia and outcome-driven inconsistency … the Proposal rests on a preposterously incomplete analysis of the health and environmental consequences of regulating, and essentially no analysis of the real-world consequences of abandoning already implemented regulations. EPA’s proposal, without reasoned explanation, contradicts EPA’s own findings affirming the serious and widespread public health hazards posed by mercury and other [pollutants].” (Comments, page 6)

The power industry is already in compliance with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, and since 2011 mercury pollution from power plants has dropped by more than 80 percent. Power sector industry and labor leaders, the Chamber of Commerce, Members of Congress from both parties, health organizations, environmental groups, moms’ groups, Native American tribal organizations, and faith groups have all asked Wheeler to leave the standards in place. Wheeler is moving ahead with his proposal in spite of the overwhelming opposition.

EPA accepted public comments on the proposal through yesterday. EDF joined with Air Alliance Houston, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, Clean Air Council, Clean Air Task Force, Clean Wisconsin, Conservation Law Foundation, Downwinders at Risk, Earthjustice, Environmental Integrity Project, Environmental Law & Policy Center, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Ohio Environmental Council, Sierra Club, and Southern Environmental Law Center to file comments last night.

You can read the full comments here.

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