STATEMENT: Biden administration to strengthen toxic pollution standards for fossil fuel power plants

Media Contacts
Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration proposed new limitations Wednesday on mercury and other toxic air pollution emitted by coal- and other fossil fuel-powered power plants. Under the proposed rule, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will update the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS), which have significantly reduced power plant pollution and prevented up to 11,000 premature deaths a year since first being issued in 2012.

A vast body of science recognizes that air toxics from coal plants can cause or contribute to neurological damage in developing fetuses, chronic respiratory diseases, various cancers, and other severe harm to human health and ecosystems. The proposed rule would require using updated technology and techniques to further reduce hazardous air pollution. It would also require continuous monitoring systems for coal-fired power plants, allowing regulators, the public, and facility owners or operators to see accurate, real-time emission measurements.

U.S. PIRG and Environment America previously called on President Joe Biden to strengthen MATS in their “First Things to Fix” report, which outlined 20 environmental priorities the president should enact when beginning his time in office.

Experts from Environment America and U.S. PIRG issued the following statement:

“Mercury is particularly toxic for the human brain and central nervous system, and that’s especially true for children,” said John Rumpler, Environment America’s senior director of clean water campaigns. “It is unconscionable that for decades power plants have endangered the health of Americans across the country by releasing mercury into the air. We are grateful that President Biden and the EPA are once again putting the health of our families first and cleaning up this toxic pollution.” 

“The Biden administration’s move to strengthen the Mercury and Air Toxics standards is a win for clean air and public health,” said Matt Casale, U.S. PIRG’s environment campaigns director. “The health benefits of today’s actions will be enormous. The EPA should finalize a rule with the strongest standards possible to have an immediate impact on public health while also putting us on a path toward a cleaner and healthier future for our children and grandchildren.”