Press Releases

Action Will Protect the Health of Vulnerable Americans While Providing Certainty to the Power Sector

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), issued the following statement on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to reaffirm the 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), thereby rejecting the previous administration’s reckless rollback of limits to mercury, acid gases, and other toxic air pollutants from power plants.

“Every American—no matter their zip code—deserves to live in a community that is free of mercury and other harmful air pollution,” said Carper. “EPA implemented the MATS rule a decade ago which has drastically reduced air toxic emissions in the years since, protecting the most vulnerable from deadly mercury pollution and other air toxics. Despite this great success, the previous administration ignored science as it attempted to turn back the clock on these protections. Fortunately, we can now breathe a little easier knowing that EPA is sticking with what most of us know to be true—clean air is integral to healthy communities and a thriving economy.”

CARPER’S LONG FIGHT TO CURB MERCURY:

From 1983 to 1993, Senator Carper served as Delaware’s only congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives. There, he worked alongside the late John Dingell, then-chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, to pass the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. The 1990 law was a bipartisan piece of legislation that garnered support from 400 House Members and 89 Senators.

After the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 became law, Senator Carper worked with then-Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to develop legislation that would have required utilities to eventually reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent. When the Obama Administration finalized the MATS rule in 2012, the rule required utilities to meet a 90 percent reduction in mercury emissions. MATS also required a 50 percent reduction in other air toxic emissions.

During the Trump Administration, as the senior-most Democrat on the EPW Committee, Carper fought tirelessly to defend the MATS rule:

  • May 20, 2020 – Carper released A Pandemic of Pollution staff report summarizing EPA’s actions to roll back clean air protections during the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted the MATS rollback during an oversight hearing with then-EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
  • April 16, 2020 – Carper slammed the administration’s final rule undermining MATS as the deadly COVID-19 pandemic was sweeping across the country.
  • November 12, 2019 – Carper and Alexander penned an op-ed in USA Today defending the MATS rule as a success, and urging EPA to not go forward with its rollback of the rule’s legal foundation.
  • March 18, 2019 – Carper testified at an EPA hearing to defend the MATS rule.
  • February 22, 2019 – Carper elevated the MATS issue as a priority in the nomination process of then-Acting Administrator Wheeler.
  • December 28, 2018 – Carper slammed the proposal after it was announced during a government shutdown, saying “EPA has decided to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and all Americans will suffer as a result.”
  • December 13, 2018 – Carper 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.
  • August 24, 2018 – Carper sent a letter with Alexander to EPA requesting that EPA keep the MATS rule in place.

Carper is also the author of the Comprehensive National Mercury Monitoring Act with Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine). This bipartisan legislation would establish a national mercury monitoring network.

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