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EPA to Restore Rules on Power Plants

February 1, 2022

On Monday, February 1, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would be moving to restore Obama-era rules on power plants that limit mercury, lead, and other hazardous pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants. The rules were first enacted in 2012 under the Clean Air Act and allowed the EPA to regulate emissions of mercury and other toxic materials from power plants as appropriate and necessary.

In 2020, the Trump administration revoked the policy, claiming that regulators made errors in calculating the costs and benefits of the rules. In response to the Trump administration’s revocation, Westmoreland Mining Holdings LLC, a coal producer, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to eliminate regulations that Obama-era officials had utilized to regulate air pollutants.

The EPA’s announcement was praised by environmental groups. In restoring the policy, the EPA said that limiting toxic emissions provides a range of public health benefits, including reducing heart attack and cancer risks and neurodevelopmental delays in children. Restoring the policy also serves as a continuation of President Biden’s efforts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions responsible for climate change.