(WASHINGTON, DC)—EPA’s finding that it is no longer “appropriate and necessary” to limit toxic air emissions from coal- and oiled-fired power plants is irresponsible and carries dangerous implications not only for the Chesapeake Bay, but for future regulation of all hazardous pollutants, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) warned today.
Mercury is already the most common metal pollutant in the Bay waters, with more than 600 river miles and approximately 20,000 impoundment acres home to fish with mercury contamination levels that exceed state guidelines.
More mercury pollution in the Bay’s 64,000 square-mile watershed poses a serious threat to the health of people who eat locally caught fish. It also jeopardizes ongoing efforts to clean up the Bay and implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint by the 2025 deadline.
In addition, EPA reversed the legal justification of the 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule based on a flawed cost-benefit assessment. EPA’s analysis devalues the serious health and environmental dangers of this toxic pollutant and ignores the health benefits of restricting power plant emissions of it. This leaves the MATS rule, as well as future standards for hazardous pollutants, vulnerable to lengthy legal challenges.
Lisa Feldt, CBF’s Vice President for Environmental Protection and Restoration, issued the following statement about EPA’s announcement:
“EPA has made an irresponsible decision to reverse its position on limiting power plant emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants.
“By downplaying mercury’s ill effects and ignoring health benefits of reducing emissions, EPA is needlessly jeopardizing the health of people who eat fish from the Chesapeake Bay, particularly children and low-income communities whose diet relies on locally caught fish. The new policy also threatens to reverse vital progress being made across the watershed to restore the health of the Bay ecosystem.
“Withdrawing the foundation of the 2010 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule carries dangerous broader implications as well. Devaluing the rule’s health and environmental benefits doesn’t just put the MATS rule in legal limbo. It leaves all future rules to control hazardous pollutants vulnerable to legal challenges and delays by industry at the expense of human health and the environment.”