WASHINGTON, D.C. – Despite resounding support for the cost-effective and popular Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule, which has helped power plants reduce their mercury pollution by 90 percent in the past decade nationwide, EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, President Trump’s nominee to be EPA Administrator, in December announced that EPA is rolling back critical protections by asserting that it is no longer “appropriate and necessary” to regulate this pollution from coal and oil fired power plants under MATS.

Across the country, a widespread chorus of stakeholders, including Republicans and Democrats, coal-fired utilities, environmental groups, public health organizations, religious organizations and concerned citizens, has been speaking out against this move by EPA that would lead to increased air pollution, higher health care costs and uncertainty for the American utility industry.

As EPA continues down this dangerous path alone, here’s what people across the country are saying about this decision that puts the MATS rule in legal jeopardy:

Electric Utilities and Labor

“The industry already has invested significant capital—estimated at more than $18 billion—in addition to these operating costs, and states are relying on the operation of these controls for their air quality plans. Therefore, we urge EPA to move forward with an RTR for power plants under CAA section 112 and to leave the underlying MATS rule in place and effective.”

-          Edison Electric Institute; National Rural Electric Cooperative Association; American Public Power Association; The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers & Helpers (7/10/18)

“Although we disagreed with provisions of the rule when it was being promulgated, our controls are in place and compliance is being achieved…We believe a disruption in the MATS program at this point is not needed.”

-          Melissa McHenry, a spokeswoman for American Electric Power (7/12/18)

“We would encourage and have encouraged the EPA not to revise the ‘appropriate and necessary’ determination that serves as regulatory predicate for MATS.  While EPA has said that the agency can take another look at this determination while leaving the standards themselves in place, we think this is too hard of a legal needle to thread and is too legally risky…We are very concerned that we will lose our ability to recover these [compliance] costs in rates if MATS is no longer in place…Removing the ‘appropriate and necessary’ determination undermines regulatory certainty and the billions of dollars invested to reduce emissions and comply with MATS…We understand that the EPA may have some concerns about how co-benefits and costs are addressed in environmental rulemakings. Legitimate debate about this topic could be appropriate in a contest of a general, forward looking rule with general applicability, not in the context of electric specific rule that threatens to undermine MATS standards in which we have already complied.”

-          Emily Fisher, General Counsel, Edison Electric Institute (2/4/19)

Health Care Organizations

"There is no legitimate justification for this action. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards are most appropriate and certainly necessary. EPA's proposal to undermine the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards is one of its most dangerous efforts yet. The MATS are already fully implemented, with significant health benefits including preventing up to 11,000 premature deaths each year and a dramatic reduction of mercury pollution, a potent neurotoxin that causes brain damage in babies.”

-          The American Lung Association (12/28/18)

“The EPA’s decision to weaken the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule is a dangerous step backwards.  A step that we do not want the country to take…By undoing the critical progress made, this decision [to rollback MATS] will put children’s health at risk. 

-          Dr. Jerome A. Paulson, MD, FAAP, American Academy of Pediatrics (2/4/19)

“The Mercury Air Toxics Standards have improved the health of millions of people at risk from these pollutants, especially women of childbearing age, unborn babies, and children, while also reducing health care costs for families and hospitals. On behalf of the patients and communities we serve, we urge you not to roll back these lifesaving standards.”

-          Cleveland Clinic, the Catholic Health Association, and 16 other hospital organizations (1/14/19)

Faith Communities

“Mercury easily crosses into the developing child’s brain causing brain damage, developmental disabilities, neurological disorders, lowered intelligence, and learning difficulties…We believe that our families, and particularly the unborn who are most at risk, deserve protection. We continue to support efforts to safeguard pregnant mothers and our unborn and newborn children from the neurological health risks associated with mercury poisoning.”

-          Presidents of the National Association of Evangelicals, The Evangelical Environmental Network, World Hope International, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, and over 20 other Christian organizations (12/19/18)

Concerned Citizens


MAINE: “…Just before closing the EPA’s doors because of what is now the longest federal shutdown in U.S. history, Wheeler used the agency’s last available resources to begin to undermine long-standing protections against mercury pollution at the request of the coal industry and at the expense of children, pregnant women and other vulnerable populations.” – Tony, Kennebec Journal (2/7/19)

COLORADO: “Mercury is extremely dangerous to humans, especially babies, and research has shown there is no safe level of exposure…Yet in December, Wheeler proposed to rollback MATS, using tactics that would overturn the government’s determination that regulating mercury emissions is “appropriate and necessary’…This is deeply problematic for Colorado, which has 11 coal plants and gets some 60 percent of its energy from coal.” – Ean, Denver Post (2/12/19)

NORTH CAROLINA: “…Since 2011, the mercury standards have helped to dramatically lower mercury emissions from coal plants—and North Carolina is no exception…As I reminded our senators’ staff, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards -- which Wheeler has attacked through a proposal to undermine its legal foundation -- specifically protect pregnant women and babies from irreversible harm.” Kelle, WRAL (2/3/19)

OHIO: “Unfortunately, President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency recently wrongly concluded that there is an imbalance between the costs on industry to comply with the standards versus the benefits to our safety and environment, even though major players within the energy industry do not support rolling back these protections. The current acting administrator of the EPA, former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, is now taking action to roll back these protections and put our environment and our health at risk.” – Jacklyn, Columbus Dispatch (2/4/19)

IOWA: "The amount of mercury pollution in Iowa alone has decreased 87 percent, and so this is a regulation that is beneficial to us as humans, it's beneficial to our environment and it didn't cost the industries as much to put in place as they thought it would.” – Anita, Iowa (2/6/19)

PENNSYLVANIA: . “Last fall, Wheeler proposed to gut the Mercury Rule, which since 2011 has effectively lowered mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants…There are zero benefits from allowing coal plants to emit more brain-damaging mercury. As an advocate for children with learning and developmental disabilities, and as a parent, I hope the Senate will reject Wheeler’s nomination unless he reinstates commonsense rules to reduce air pollution and keep toxic chemicals out of our food, water, and products.” – Maureen, Philadelphia Inquirer (2/6/19)

TENNESSEE: “MM toxicity leads to slowed thinking, impaired coordination, and difficulty paying attention. Those changes may not show up for months…This is no time to relax U.S. restrictions on mercury emissions. Since most power plants are in compliance, what is the point unless EPA plans to argue that health considerations should not be factored into environmental regulations.” – Dr. Cleaveland, Chattanooga Times Free Press (1/13/19)

SOUTH CAROLINA: “Under MATS, South Carolina has realized an 83 percent reduction in mercury emissions. Mercury is a neurotoxin that, when ingested by pregnant women, crosses the placenta and results in irreversible brain damage in unborn children… Mr. Wheeler’s MATS revision does not square with our faith or the faith of millions of pro-life Americans.” – Rev. Summers, The State (2/20/19)

WEST VIRGINIA: “The 2012 standards are working. Mercury pollution in West Virginia has decreased by 75 percent. The filters installed also protect against arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases… Mercury exposure is estimated to cost our nation’s economy an average of $8.7 billion each year, when calculated in terms of the loss of economic productivity of exposed children across their lifetime. Is Wheeler considering our children’s potential in his calculations? It doesn’t seem like it.” – Penny, Charleston Gazette-Mail (2/5/19)