Press Releases

EPA Rewrites Rules Limiting Mercury Pollution from Power Plants


Contact: Thomas Fox, Center for Environmental Health,
Ruben F. Diaz, Center for Environmental Health,

Center For Environmental Health Condemns Assault On Science as EPA Rewrites Rules Limiting Mercury Pollution from Power Plants

OAKLAND, CA– Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) weakened regulations on the release of toxic emissions from oil and coal-fired power plants in a new rule that undermines the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) by recalculating the benefit of reducing mercury pollution. The announcement comes as part of an ongoing rollback of health protections during a global pandemic, giving the country’s most toxic industries an opportunity to challenge any regulations they deem too costly. 

In response, the Center for Environmental Health released the following statement:

The EPA’s decision to ignore the advice of its own science advisors and disregard the public health benefits of reducing mercury pollution is inconsistent with fundamental economics and common sense. Many of the effects of mercury are well-documented, from neurological damage to impaired memory and brain development. But mercury also causes non-neurological, adverse health effects which are less well-documented, like an increase in blood pressure, chromosomal damage, and immunosuppression. While these effects are known and the threat real, they remain difficult to monetize, making co-benefits an essential part of the EPA’s cost benefit analysis of power plant pollution. When coal plants install pollution controls to limit mercury and other toxics, they also lower emissions of sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and other pollutants and the value of these co-benefits are well documented.

Health experts warn us that communities living along the fence line to toxic industry operations, facing increased exposure to particulate matter emissions, are more susceptible to the worst symptoms of coronavirus, including death. People are exposed to mercury primarily through eating contaminated fish. This has a disproportionate impact on Native Americans and other indigenous people who rely heavily on fish. It is inexcusable that Trump’s EPA would be further endangering the most overburdened communities in the country. We need to reign in toxic industries now more than ever–for the sake of our health and our future.