(Washington, D.C. – February 17, 2023) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued its final “appropriate and necessary” finding, under our nation’s clean air laws, to limit mercury and other toxic air pollution from coal and oil-fired power plants. The move solidifies the legal foundation for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. EDF is also calling on EPA to strengthen and modernize those standards to protect our children and communities from toxic pollution.
“The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are enormously successful at protecting millions of people from some of the most dangerous smokestack pollution in our air, and at a fraction of the expected cost,” said EDF Lead Counsel Michael Panfil. “It should be a relief to all Americans that EPA has now reaffirmed the underlying legal basis for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards to ensure those vital protections remain intact. Now we urge EPA to take the next step forward and strengthen the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which would remove even more deadly pollution from our air and would better protect public health.”
The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards limit some of the most dangerous types of air pollution – including mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel, and hydrochloric acid gas – that are emitted by coal and oil-fired power plants. These pollutants are hazardous to human health even in small doses. For instance, mercury causes brain damage in babies and is associated with heart disease, metal toxics like chromium and nickel cause cancer, and acid gases cause serious lung diseases.
Since 2012, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards have helped slash toxic pollution. However, the previous administration tried to undermine the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards by attacking their legal underpinning – EPA’s “appropriate and necessary” finding. The Biden EPA proposed restoring the “appropriate and necessary” finding for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards last year and held a public comment period and hearings on the proposal. EDF partnered with broad coalitions of community, public health, civil rights, environmental justice, environmental, faith and professional groups to submit technical comments and a letter of strong support for reaffirming the “appropriate and necessary” finding. Today EPA finalized its proposal, officially reinstating the robust legal basis for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
# # #
One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund