The Trump administration is trying to roll back restrictions on mercury emissions from coal plants by claiming that rules adopted under President Obama unduly claim benefits from reduced emissions of other pollutants from coal plants shut down or modified to control mercury. Everyone should know that this claim is specious. The governing Clean Air Act requires that emission standards be set to protect the public health with an adequate margin of safety and that emissions standards for toxic air pollutants such as mercury must require the maximum degree of reduction EPA determines is achievable. The law does not require the EPA to carry out a cost-benefit analysis or determine that economic benefits exceed pollution control costs. EPA is required to take into consideration the cost of emission reduction and any non-air quality health and environmental impacts. Mercury is highly toxic to the nervous, immune, gastro-intestinal and other systems. Children are especially susceptible. Exposure can come from many sources, including skin contact or eating contaminated food. The Obama rule is legally and environmentally sound. This blatant Trump giveaway to the coal industry should be quickly shut down.
Former professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and a vice-president of the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C.