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Francis Rooney: EPA Should Not Change Mercury and Air Toxics Standards

April 23, 2019 - 12:00pm
Francis Rooney
Francis Rooney

This week, a congressman from Florida insisted a recent decision from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is undermining public health. 

Back at the end of December, the EPA proposed revising the Supplemental Cost Finding for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and the Clean Air Act-required “risk and technology review.”

“The Trump administration is providing regulatory certainty by transparently and accurately taking account of both costs and benefits in the proposed revised Supplemental Cost Finding for MATS,” the EPA noted in December. “After properly evaluating the cost to coal- and oil-fired power plants of complying with the MATS rule (costs that the Obama administration estimated range from $7.4 to $9.6 billion annually) and the benefits attributable to regulating hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions from these power plants (benefits that range from $4 to $6 million annually) — as EPA was directed to do by the U.S. Supreme Court — the Agency proposes to determine that it is not appropriate and necessary’ to regulate HAP emissions from power plants under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act.

“The emission standards and other requirements of the MATS rule, first promulgated in 2012, would remain in place as EPA is not proposing to remove coal- and oil-fired power plants from the list of sources that are regulated under Section 112 of the Act,” the EPA added. “The proposal also contains the required ‘risk and technology review,’ concluding that no changes to the MATS rule are needed, and also takes comment on establishing a separate subcategory for certain units that rely on coal refuse.”

This change isn’t sitting well with U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., who wrote the EPA on the matter this week. 

“The EPA’s December 27, 2018 proposal undermines the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule that is already implemented by coal-burnings and utility companies across the nation,” Rooney said on Monday. “Undermining the current MATS rule could jeopardize recent gains in health benefits, especially for our most vulnerable. Additionally, undermining the rule could increase mercury contamination of our food supply, namely fish stock.”

Rooney, who served as President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the Holy See, said fellow supporters of life should support changing the MATS rule. 

“This rule protects the health of many of the most vulnerable members of our community,” Rooney said.  “As a pro-life member of Congress, this issue requires careful consideration as the negative health impacts of mercury exposure, especially to pregnant women, babies and young children are well documented and truly detrimental. We should not jeopardize the progress that has been made.”

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