Carper to EPA: Dismantling Mercury Emissions Rule Puts Americans’ Health at Risk

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), issued the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is rolling back critical protections by asserting that it is no longer “appropriate and necessary” to regulate mercury and toxic air pollution from coal and oil fired plants under the Mercury Air Toxics Standards (MATS).

“Once again, the Trump Administration is acting in a way that will adversely affect the health and safety of those living from coast to coast. The Trump EPA has decided – despite the recommendations of scientists, public health experts and elected officials on both sides of the aisle – that it is no longer ‘appropriate and necessary’ to protect the development of infants’ brains from the serious threats posed by mercury power plant pollution.

“By releasing this proposal today, Acting Administrator Wheeler can only be attempting to rush an egregious policy before EPA staff are furloughed that is not only wildly unpopular, but also rolls back years of critical protections that keep toxic emissions out of the air we all breathe. With this action, EPA is also setting a dangerous precedent that a federal agency – charged with protecting the environment and public health – will no longer factor in all the clear health, environmental, and economics benefits of clean air polices, such as reducing cancer and birth defects. Since the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule was issued in 2012, both electric prices and mercury pollution have gone down. With this proposal, EPA has decided to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and all Americans will suffer as a result.”

Background on Senator Carper’s fight to limit mercury emissions:

  • Senator Carper in December sent a letter to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) expressing grave concerns that in making this decision, EPA is ignoring or dismissing many of the MATS rule’s public health benefits and actual costs.
  • Senator Carper in August introduced the Comprehensive National Mercury Monitoring Act with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), a bipartisan bill that would establish a national mercury monitoring network.
  • Senator Carper in August sent a letter with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to EPA requesting that EPA keep the MATS rule in place.
  • Senator Carper early last year questioned then-Attorney General Scott Pruitt last year about EPA’s commitment to regulate mercury. Pruitt replied that “Mercury under the Section 112 is something that EPA should deal with and regulate.”
  • Senator Carper early last year discussed Pruitt’s antagonism towards regulating mercury while he led the overnight floor debate on the confirmation vote for Scott Pruitt to lead EPA.
  • Senator Carper in November highlighted Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency for Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum’s opposition to regulating mercury from power plants.