EPA Guts Obama-Era Mercury Pollution Rule

by | Apr 23, 2020

The Trump administration has finalized its rollback of groundbreaking controls on mercury and other air pollution from coal and oil-burning power plants — but not by actually rewriting or repealing any regulations. Instead, the EPA has changed how the costs and benefits of environmental rules are calculated, downplaying the savings from improved human health while elevating the costs to polluters to implement them. The move laid the groundwork for a regulatory upheaval. “The new method could be used to justify loosening restrictions on any pollutant that the fossil fuel industry has deemed too costly to control,” reported The New York Times. By EPA’s own estimates, the 2012 rule has saved as many as 17,000 lives a year, and prevented thousands of illnesses. Status: Effective April 15, 2020.

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Amy Westervelt is the editor-in-chief of Drilled News, creator and host of the Drilled podcast, and founder of the Critical Frequency podcast network, named AdWeek's Podcast Network of the Year in 2019. An award-winning print and audio journalist, Amy has contributed to The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, as well as KQED, The California Report, Capital Public Radio, and many other outlets. She is the 2015 winner of the Rachel Carson award for "women greening journalism," and a 2016 winner of an Edward R. Murrow award for her series on the impacts of the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada. In 2019, the Drilled podcast won the Online News Association's "Excellence in Audio Storytelling" award.

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Emily J. Gertz is senior editor of Drilled News. A longtime environmental reporter and editor, her work has appeared in HuffPost, Reveal, Arctic Today, The Guardian, Popular Science, Scientific American, Sierra, and more.