EPA Delivers Holiday Gift: New Mercury Rules

What, you don't want me?<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ittybittiesforyou/4969087398/sizes/m/in/photostream/">Jenn and Tony Bot</a>/Flickr

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


A little bit of good news for the holidays: the EPA is taking some coal out of our stocking. On Wednesday, the agency announced the new national standards on mercury and other toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants, an event that has enviros and public health groups cheering.

The rules, according to the EPA, will yield $9 in public health benefits for every $1 that the industry has to spend on technology to cut pollution. Officially called the utility maximum achievable control technology (or utility MACT), the pollution limits will also prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 childhood asthma attacks each year, according to the agency. Overjoyed statements from groups like Greenpeace, the American Lung Association, the American Public Health Association, Green for All, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Sierra Club, and Environment America have flooded reporters’ inboxes. The Evangelical Environmental Network, which had campaigned for the rules on the argument that “mercury pollution is a pro-life issue,” was also quite pleased.

The Center for Progressive Reform had a good post on the new rules, and David Roberts at Grist explains why they’re are such a BFD.

The emissions limits have been in the works since a set of amendments to the Clean Air Act passed in 1990—which, if you’re keeping track, is a kind of a long time to wait. The EPA is touting these as the first standards on these pollutants, but that’s not entirely true. The Bush administration did put out mercury rules, but they were crappy and got thrown out in court for failing to protect public health.

Of course, even though it’s had plenty of time to get ready for them, the energy industry doesn’t like the rule because it means they might have to shut down some coal plants that can’t meet the standards. The rules will probably put somewhere between 32 and 58 power plants out of business, according to the AP’s analysis. This is not, however, going to cause massive blackouts as doom-saying foes of the rule have claimed. And by the EPA’s estimates, 60 percent of coal- and oil-fired power plants already have pollution controls; it’s just the oldest and dirtiest that would be affected. Which is, of course, another reason why enviros are so happy.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate