EPA to reconsider 2011 power plant pollution rule

EPA to reconsider 2011 power plant pollution rule
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday that it is reconsidering a 2011 air pollution rule that has been blamed for numerous coal-fired power plant closures.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) set new limits for emissions of mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium, which the coal industry and Republicans have said was central to former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFord taps Obama, Clinton alum to navigate Senate hearing McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination Presidential approval: It's the economy; except when it's not MORE’s “War on Coal.”

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Now the Trump administration is eyeing changes to the standards, an EPA spokeswoman said.

Officials are also considering changes to a 2016 retroactive declaration by the EPA that the 2011 rule was “appropriate and necessary.”

“One of a number of issues EPA is assessing in the context of the appropriate and necessary analysis is striking the right balance when accounting for co-benefits,” EPA spokeswoman Molly Block said Wednesday. Block was referring to benefits in a regulation’s cost-benefit analysis that come from reducing pollutants that are not targeted in the rule itself.

“EPA knows these issues are of importance to the regulated community and the public at large and is committed to a thoughtful and transparent regulatory process in addressing them.”

Wednesday's announcement was first reported by Bloomberg Environment.

The reconsideration is part of a wide-ranging effort under President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE to dismantle Obama’s aggressive environmental agenda and to remove what he sees as barriers to the production and use of fossil fuels and other domestic energy.

The rule caused nearly a fifth of the nation’s coal-fired power plant fleet to shut down or make plans to do so, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Other plants installed equipment to clean up their emissions, converted to other fuel sources or shut down for other reasons.

EPA made the 2016 "appropriate and necessary" finding to comply with the Supreme Court’s 2015 Michigan v. EPA ruling. The ruling held that the agency should have made such a determination before the rule was written, even though the cost-benefit analysis for the rule itself found benefits of up to $90 billion and costs of up to $9.6 billion.