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article imageEPA: Mercury limits on coal plants 'too costly and not needed'

By Karen Graham     Jan 4, 2019 in Politics
Hours before the EPA put almost all of its 14,000 workers on furlough because of the government shutdown, the Agency announced its latest measure to preserve coal-fired power in the United States.
For the second time in a month, the Trump administration is proposing to revise the Obama administration’s 2016 Supplemental Finding that it is appropriate and necessary to regulate coal- and oil-fired electric generating units.
Early in December, the EPA announced a proposal to do away with carbon-dioxide limits on coal plants, overturning one of President Obama's signature climate change programs - the Clean Power Program, although it has never gone into effect because it has been tied up in litigation.
This early December proposal would increase global warming emissions from coal-fired power plants by 35 percent over current law.
At current levels of greenhouse gas emissions  the IPCC report finds with "high confidence"...
At current levels of greenhouse gas emissions, the IPCC report finds with "high confidence", we will zoom past the 1.5C marker around 2040
In October 2017, the EPA was very matter-of-fact in its response to why it wants to repeal the Clean Power Plan, saying that by proposing to repeal the Clean Power Plan, EPA knows it “would no longer reduce emissions of certain precursor pollutants (e.g., SO2, NOx, and directly emitted particles), which in turn would no longer lower ambient concentrations of PM2.5 and ozone.”
Mercury and other toxic emissions targeted
The new EPA proposal suggests that limiting mercury and other toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants are not cost-effective and should not be considered "appropriate and necessary," according to National Public Radio.
Specifically, the EPA's proposal would allow coal plants to emit more toxic mercury, which has been found to cause developmental disabilities in children and harm pregnant women.
According to the Agency, the methods the EPA used in the 2016 appropriate and necessary finding to calculate the economic benefits of regulating these facilities under Section 112 were flawed, and therefore, it is not appropriate and necessary to take such action, at least under Section 112.
In 2016  humanity emitted the equivalent of 52 billion tonnes -- or gigatonnes -- of CO2 (52GtCO2e) ...
In 2016, humanity emitted the equivalent of 52 billion tonnes -- or gigatonnes -- of CO2 (52GtCO2e), including other gases such as methane
To be clear, the latest proposal is only a limited measure. Nor does the EPA plan to withdraw the Agency’s 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which impose limits on mercury and other HAPs emitted by EGUs under the authority of Section 112.
The agency is also seeking public comment on whether, following any final reversal of the 2016 appropriate and necessary finding, the EPA would either have the discretionary authority to remove fossil-fired EGUs from the Section 112 list and/or rescind MATS, an issue that is opposed by many, including environmentalists.
In a statement releasing the new proposal, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said, "it is not ‘appropriate and necessary’ to regulate HAP (Hazardous Air Pollution) emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants... because the costs of such regulation grossly outweigh the quantified HAP benefits.” Wheeler is a former coal industry lobbyist who replaced Scott Pruit.
The director of its Beyond Coal Campaign, Mary Anne Hitt, the Sierra Club responded in a statement, saying:, "Virtually every coal plant in the U.S. has already met this lifesaving standard, and now Trump is recklessly trying to roll it back... The policy Andrew Wheeler and Donald Trump proposed today means more pregnant women, young children, and the elderly will be exposed to deadly neurotoxins and poisons, just so wealthy coal and oil barons can make a few extra bucks."
More about Epa, coal plants, Emissions, Mercury, rollback of standards
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