Trump EPA orders rollback of Obama-era regulations

EPA proposes easing regulation of mercury from coal plants

Trump’s EPA To Weaken Rule Limiting Coal Plant Mercury Emissions

As his second year comes to a close, agencies have set the regulatory wheels in motion to weaken or repeal almost a dozen Obama-era restrictions on air and water pollution or planet-warming emissions of carbon dioxide, including a plan to reduce the number of waterways that are protected from pollutants and another making it easier for utilities to build new coal plants.

"Once again, the Trump administration is acting in a way that will adversely affect the health and safety of those living from coast to coast".

However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the clean-up produced only a few million dollars a year in measurable health benefits and was not "appropriate and necessary".

However, the EPA said it will seek comment during a 60-day public-review period on whether "we would be obligated to rescind" the Obama-era rule if the agency adopts Friday's finding that the regulation was not appropriate and necessary. It said the standards have markedly reduced mercury in the environment and improved public health. Since the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule was issued in 2012, both electric prices and mercury pollution have gone down.

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"EPA has managed to walk a very fine line", said Jeffrey Holmstead, a partner at the firm Bracewell who represents several utilities and who headed the agency's air and radiation office under President George W. Bush.

On Friday, the EPA said the 2011 rule will stay in place.

Coal power plants are the single biggest source of mercury pollution in America, accounting for almost half of mercury pollution in 2015, according to a recent study published by Harvard University's School of Public Health.

Mercury causes brain damage, learning disabilities and other birth defects in children, among other harm. "The misguided proposed changes leave MATS legally vulnerable and foolishly make it harder to strengthen mercury pollution reduction standards in the future to better protect children's and women's health, and Great Lakes fisheries".

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Howard Learner, the executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, added he felt the decision would threaten famous American waters.

The new proposal fundamentally changes that approach.

"The administrator has concluded that the identification of these benefits is not sufficient, in light of the gross imbalance of monetized costs", the EPA announcement read.

Environmental advocacy groups criticized the move, while the National Mining Association praised it. This is public health benefits.

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