EPA Moves to Restore Vital Public Health Protections with Proposed Mercury Finding

Statement by Julie McNamara, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jan 31, 2022

WASHINGTON (January 31, 2022) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed restoring the “appropriate and necessary” finding underpinning the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which regulate mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from coal- and oil-burning power plants. The Trump administration had previously revoked this finding, leaving the MATS rule vulnerable to legal challenge. Today’s proposal would put the rule back on solid footing, ensuring the ongoing protection of public health and enabling the agency to move to strengthen these essential standards through an accompanying request for information, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Julie McNamara, deputy policy director for the Climate and Energy Program at UCS.

“Today, Administrator Regan has taken a critical step forward in restoring vital public health protections. There is no question – none – that it is ‘appropriate and necessary’ to limit people’s exposure to mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants. Today’s proposal unequivocally reaffirms that, reinforcing what science has long made clear: these protections provide towering benefits that far outweigh the costs.

“We also know that hazardous air pollution is still killing and sickening people. The costs and consequences of this ongoing pollution—and the fact that the harms of air pollution fall disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color—have never been more evident. While today’s proposal is vital, it’s only a start. We strongly support the EPA not just upholding but strengthening these rules, beginning with today’s additional request for information.

“It should also be said: Today’s issuance never should have had to happen. The Trump administration’s revocation of the ‘appropriate and necessary’ finding was based on an egregious manipulation of science to favor polluters. Today’s proposal, with its clear commitment to evaluating the best available science, marks another point of progress in the EPA’s return to its mission of putting people, not polluters, first.”