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Comments to EPA on Proposal to Strengthen the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards

In April 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to strengthen and update the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for coal- and oil-fired power plants, also known as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). In this proposal, EPA clearly explained why it revised the technology review conducted in 2020 and made the emissions standards more stringent on the basis of developments in control technologies. EPA also properly explained its reliance on relevant statutory factors to update the standards.

In comments, Policy Integrity recommended that EPA further discuss the benefits of reducing Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) emissions in its regulatory analysis. We also recommended EPA examine whether its demographic analysis, which averages the populations within a ten kilometer radius of all affected facilities and does not examine populations closest to the facilities separately, obscures meaningful differences between the regulatory alternatives. We highlighted that EPA properly includes the benefits of reducing criteria and greenhouse gas pollutants in its Executive Order 12,866 analysis. Lastly, we recommended that, if EPA grants the existing petition for reconsideration and revisits the residual risk analysis, then the agency should more fully consider the incremental benefits of risk reduction below the currently accepted thresholds for hazardous air pollutants.