Mercury Emissions Rules - to be weakened by Trump Administration?


#Mercury #Minamata Convention #USA

We congratulated USA for being a party country to the Minamata Convention on Mercury. A long wait after the disappointment from the earlier Stockholm Convention (on Persistent Organic Pollutants), Basel Convention (on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal) & Rotterdam Convention (on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade). And we were thrilled to see in Minamata COP 1 that USA is eager to bid to hold the permanent secretariat for Minamata Convention, the negotiation of which is expected to continue in the upcoming Minamata Convention COP 2.

Recently, however, the New York Times revealed that the Trump administration has completed a detailed legal proposal to dramatically weaken a major environmental regulation covering mercury, according to a person who has seen the document but is not authorized to speak publicly about it.

Specifically, the new Trump administration proposal would no longer take into account of "co-benefits" of environment actions, repealing a 2011 EPA finding that when the federal government regulates toxic pollution such as mercury from coal-fired power plants, it must also, when considering the cost to industry of that rule, take into account the additional health benefits of reducing other pollutants as a side effect of implementing the regulation. Under the Obama administration: cost of action (for the electric utility industry to install that mercury control technology): $9.6 billion/ year, making it the most expensive clean air regulation ever put forth by the federal government. While annual health benefits = $6 million + additional $80 billion from the additional reduction in soot and nitrogen oxide that occur as a side effect of controlling mercury, the "co-benefits". Co-benefits not being considered, justification to regulate industries could not be uphold, obviously. The coal power plant (and the whole American coal industry) will be freer to develop.

Association 3 Herissons is waiting for the proposal to be publically available. And we also look forward to see how US delegation would perform in Minamata COP 2 later this year.

For more details, please refer to the New York Times report.