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Attorney General Josh Stein Calls on EPA to Withdraw Proposal Undermining Mercury and Air Toxics Standards


Release date: 4/18/2019

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw a proposal that would undermine federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). The 2012 rule regulates mercury and toxic air pollutants emitted by power plants, which are the country’s largest source of hazardous air pollution.
“We have a responsibility to make sure that the air we breathe is clean and safe, especially for children,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “This proposal would unnecessarily put North Carolinians’ health at risk. I urge the EPA to withdraw it and maintain the current safe rule.”
The recent proposal reverses the EPA’s determination, made in 2000, that it is “appropriate and necessary” under the Clean Air Act to regulate mercury and other toxic air pollution from coal power plants. The EPA found that existing provisions of the Clean Air Act would not adequately address these emissions.
Mercury has serious health risks, especially on developing fetuses, pregnant women, children, and wildlife. Exposure to mercury affects development and is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, autoimmune dysfunction, and cardiovascular issues in adults. Mercury pollution in lakes and rivers also damages local fishing economies.
The coalition of 27 states, counties, and cities argues in its comments that the agency’s proposal is unlawful, lacks a reasoned basis, relies on inaccurate information, and is a serious threat to public health. The coalition notes that power plants are already in compliance with the MATS rule, which provides enormous health, environmental, and economic benefits to the residents of their states and local governments. Additionally, compliance with the MATS rule is projected to save at least $43 billion by 2050.
Attorney General Stein is joined in filing today’s comments by the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the Maryland department of the Environment, the City Solicitor of Baltimore, the Corporation Counsels of Chicago and New York City, the County Attorney of Erie County, NY, and the County Counsel for the County of Santa Clara, CA.
A copy of the comments can be viewed here.
More on Attorney General Stein’s work to protect the environment:  

Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

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