EPA enacts life-saving pollution limits for Mercury and Air Toxics from electricity generation April 25, 2024

Having finalized a suite of new standards to regulate power plants, EPA has updated its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). PSR has long called for stronger MATS, along with the continuous monitoring necessary to ensure that power plants are in compliance. Today, we see that come to fruition.

PSR thanks EPA for their diligent work updating MATS and other standards aimed at reducing harm from power plants.The power sector is our country’s second-largest source of climate pollution and the largest source of airborne mercury pollution. EPA now projects that by the year 2028 we will see significant emissions reductions, such as 1,000 pounds of mercury, 770 tons of particulate matter, and 65,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

Pollutants emitted by power plants are harmful to health, especially for people living near those plants. Often, these are communities of color and low-income people, who as a result of their proximity experience disproportionate levels of negative health impacts. Recorded health impacts include damage to the skin, eyes, breathing passages, lungs, nervous system and kidneys. Certain cancers as well as cardiovascular disease are more common after being subjected to the pollutants regulated by MATS. Mercury exposure in particular can lead to developmental birth defects and interfere with neurological development. People with diabetes, lung or heart disease, and older adults are at higher risk of poor health outcomes upon exposure. The updated MATS will help to protect those most vulnerable to power plant pollution.

According to EPA, these new standards will save lives and create $300 million in health benefits and $130 million in climate benefits over the 10-year period from 2028-2037. Today’s action is a step in the right direction for improving air quality nationwide.

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