By Craig Rucker
October 5, 2018 - Recently the Trump administration announced its intention to rollback yet another onerous Obama-era rule designed to kill the use of coal.
Known as MATS (the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard), this ill-founded regulation, although tied up in the courts for years, pushed energy providers to either outfit coal plants with outrageously expensive technologies or shutter them altogether. In short, it carried out Obama’s wish to stifle the use of coal for electricity.
What’s particularly irksome about MATS is the methodology employed by EPA to justify its need – and it is that which the Trump administration is specifically targeting for reform. As explained by Jason Hopkins at cfact.org:
“The Obama administration originally found that forcing coal-fired plants to use the mercury control technology would cost an estimated $9.6 billion a year — the most expensive clean air regulation. This cost was far higher than the expected annual health savings of $6 million. However, the administration was able to rack up these health saving numbers by enabling the MATS Rule, with co-benefits adding another $80 billion, according to The New York Times.”
You can read Hopkins’ full article here.
So what are these “co-benefits?” Principally they’re slight of hand numbers EPA manufactured showing hundreds of thousands of alleged “lives saved” from yet more minor reductions in mercury emissions.
Of course, knowing how many lives might be saved would be a valuable statistic to have if it were in fact grounded in good science. But sadly such is not the case. Instead, EPA deliberately relies on the grossly exaggerated assumptions contained in the decades-old Harvard Six Cities Study and the Cancer Prevention Study II. These studies have been thoroughly debunked and known to greatly exaggerate any negative impacts. To get a good understanding of the problems contained in these studies, get your copy of Steven Milloy’s “Scare Pollution” at the CFACT bookstore.
So the good news is, it looks like Trump’s EPA is continuing to forge ahead with needed reform. Yes, it’s unfortunate this rollback of MATS couldn’t have been done in time to stave off some of the plant closings it caused – but, as the old adage goes, it’s still “better late than never.”