EPA Takes Welcome Step to Support Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, Protect Americans from Dangerous Pollution from Coal-Fired Power Plants

Statement of EDF Lead Counsel Michael Panfil

January 31, 2022
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718, sstein@edf.org

“Today, EPA released its proposed finding that is it ‘appropriate and necessary’ under the Clean Air Act to limit mercury and other toxic pollution from coal-fired power plants. This proposal will serve as a robust legal basis for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which protect Americans from some extremely dangerous types of pollution – including mercury, which causes brain damage in babies and is associated with heart disease, arsenic, and other substances that cause cancer and lung disease. Since 2012, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards have slashed pollution by as much as 80 percent and have done it at a fraction of the expected cost. Recent studies prove that reducing toxic pollution has provided greater health benefits than anticipated, for less money.

"The previous administration tried to weaken the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards by attacking the ‘appropriate and necessary’ finding – the legal underpinnings of this resounding success story. Today, EPA has taken a welcome first step toward reversing that wholly unfounded action and restoring the finding. EPA is also requesting comments on whether it should take further steps to strengthen these critical safeguards. We believe it absolutely should. While the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards have been successful, there are still many coal plants that release significant amounts of mercury pollution and put American families at risk. EDF has published a map highlighting the top thirty mercury polluters and their locations around the country. 

"EPA has a clear authority and responsibility to protect Americans from mercury and other toxic pollution from power plants, and today’s finding reflects that. Next we must strengthen the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards so we can do more to protect our children and communities from toxic pollution.”

            - Michael Panfil, Lead Counsel and Director of Climate Risk Strategies, Environmental Defense Fund

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