Chesapeake Bay Foundation Opposes Changes to Mercury and Air Toxics Standards

(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has submitted comments to EPA opposing proposed changes to the analysis underlying the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). In 2012, EPA published the rule to limit emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants. The MATS Rule was based on EPA’s finding that it is “appropriate and necessary” under the Clean Air Act to regulate mercury and toxic air emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants because they pose a significant hazard to human health and the environment.

EPA now proposes to find that it is not “appropriate” to regulate these same emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from fossil fuel-fired power plants based on a new, misguided cost-benefit analysis that undervalues benefits to human health and the environment.

As of 2012, the presence of mercury in fish tissue in concentrations exceeding state guidelines affected more than 600 river miles and approximately 20,000 impoundment acres in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

An analysis conducted for the CBF found that absent the use of mercury controls, there could be an additional 3.7 kg of mercury deposited each year within the Chesapeake Bay watershed from just five of the many affected power plants. This is a dramatic and harmful increase; as little as 0.3 grams of mercury deposition per year is sufficient to cause contamination of a 25-acre lake.

In light of the proposed changes, CBF Vice President for Litigation Jon Mueller issued this statement:

Mercury is a serious pollution problem. The Susquehanna River from the New York border to Sunbury, Maryland’s Centennial Lake, portions of the Potomac River, and Virginia’s Dragon Run, are among the many rivers, lakes, and streams in the region with mercury contamination that has led to fish consumption advisories.
“This raises risks, especially for children, in low income communities that depend on locally caught fish as part of their diet.
“The proposal by the Trump Administration to change how the benefits of the regulation are calculated is yet another attempt to put corporate profits ahead of human health and the environment.”

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