EPA's $9.6 Billion Holiday Gift To Environmentalists

The EPA issues its first national standards for mercury pollution from power plants, requiring a dramatic reduction of pollutants 90% by 2016.

This new rule, first authorized in the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments, is a win for environmentalists who were furious with the White House for dropping EPA's review of ozone limits earlier in 2011.

The EPA estimates that compliance with the rule will cost the power plant industry $9.6 billion, and provide health benefits of $37 billion. Opponents of the measure charge that the new regulations will cost the country too much to justify.

John H. Broder reports: "Scott H. Segal, who represents utilities that will be affected by the new rule, said that the E.P.A. was playing down the costs and double-counting the benefits. 'The bottom line,' he said in an analysis of the regulation, "this rule is the most expensive air rule that E.P.A. has ever proposed in terms of direct costs. It is certainly the most extensive intervention into the power market and job market that E.P.A. has ever attempted to implement.' "

The new rule is formally known as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS.

The EPA estimates that the new safeguards will prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks a year. The standards will also help America's children grow up healthier – preventing 130,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and about 6,300 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children each year. According to the EPA Power plants are the largest remaining source of several toxic air pollutants, including mercury, arsenic, cyanide, and a range of other dangerous pollutants, and are responsible for half of the mercury and over 75 percent of the acid gas emissions in the United States.

Shortly after the announcement, The White House released a video in which the president discusses the rules:

Full Story: E.P.A. Issues Limits on Mercury Emissions

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