EPA Unveils Suite of Protections Addressing Power Plant Pollution of Our Air, Land and Water

Statement of EDF President Fred Krupp

April 25, 2024
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718, sstein@edf.org

“The U.S. has been walking toward a safer climate and healthier air and today we broke into a run. Today the Environmental Protection Agency announced a suite of new protections that will reduce pollution from the largest industrial source – our nation’s fossil fuel power plants.

“EPA strengthened the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, the successful clean air program limiting dangerous smokestack pollutants in our air. Coal-fired power plants emit mercury, which is linked to brain damage in children and heart disease in adults, and they emit cancer-causing arsenic, chromium and nickel.

“Since the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards were first adopted more than a decade ago they have saved more than 160,000 lives – at a fraction of what power companies thought it would cost. Now EPA will strengthen these achievable and cost-effective standards to make them more protective in addressing cancer-causing toxics, will require continuous monitoring systems for key toxic pollutants, and will close a loophole that allowed power plants that burned one type of especially dirty coal – lignite coal – to emit three times more mercury than other plants.

“EPA also announced new standards to slash climate pollution from new gas-burning power plants and existing coal-burning power plants. Fossil fuel-fired power plants are responsible for about one-quarter of our nation’s total carbon pollution – the pollution that causes climate change and leads to more heatwaves and wildfires, more severe storms and flooding, rising sea levels, and risks to human life. The standards announced today, paired with EPA’s recent actions to reduce pollution from our nation’s cars and trucks, mean we will be able to reduce climate pollution from two of its primary sources across our economy and seriously address the climate crisis.

“The Clean Air Act requires EPA to address climate pollution, and the agency’s authority was reinforced by Congress in the Inflation Reduction Act. Our power plants have compliance options that are pollution-free, more affordable than ever, reliable, and are job creators in communities across our country. The actions EPA announced today bring us closer to the finish line in our race toward healthier air and a safer climate for all.”

            - Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund

EDF recently released an updated map of the top 30 mercury-polluting power plants in the country. You can see the map and read more in our blog post, We need to close a mercury pollution loophole for lignite coal plants.

In addition to the strengthened Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and the carbon pollution standards for new gas-burning power plants and existing coal-burning power plants, EPA also announced effluent limitation guidelines and coal ash standards for power plants to protect our water and land from contamination.

These EPA protections will have life-saving benefits in cutting pollution from power plant smokestacks. EDF, Bloomberg Philanthropies' Beyond Carbon initiative, and many across our nation have urged protections for public health from the pollution discharged by coal and gas plants while saving families money and creating jobs. These protections will lead to a cleaner and more reliable electric grid and will protect health and livelihoods for communities across the country. Through the efforts of the Beyond Carbon initiative, for example, coal pollution reductions are estimated to have saved almost 50,000 lives, prevented almost 80,000 heart attacks, and saved billions in healthcare costs. 

# # #

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