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The Facts Behind the EPA's Latest Proposal

Adam Peshek | Reason Foundation:

On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put a regulation on the books that will cost $10 billion a year and will do almost nothing to accomplish its aim of improving public health. It is merely another example of the EPA's politicization of science in a continued effort to bypass Congress to regulate greenhouse gas and eliminate coal.

The "Mercury and Air Toxics Standards" (MATS) is the first of its kind to require installing expensive equipment on over 700 power plants. It has been estimated that this, and other related regulations, will shut down nearly ten percent of coal generating electricity in the country. This could be considered worth the cost if the regulation produced a significant impact on public health.

Clean air is an important aspect of a healthy society and its economy. And mercury, when exposed at high concentrations, is a dangerous neurotoxin. But despite its name, the regulation does almost nothing to reduce mercury or toxic emissions. Less than one-tenth of one percent of the regulation's benefits come from reductions in mercury. But this fact has not stopped the EPA and its supporters from exaggerating the regulation's benefits.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said of the rule, "By cutting emissions that are linked to developmental disorders and respiratory illnesses like asthma, these standards represent a major victory for clean air and public health - and especially for the health of our children." The Center for American Progress claims that "slashing mercury and other contaminants will save 11,000 lives annually" and "provide economic benefits" that the EPA estimates to be between $33 and $90 billion. With these kinds of figures, surely mercury exposure is an epidemic destroying our economy and families. ... continues...

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