APCC Opposes EPA’s Proposed Rollback of Coal Plant Emissions

DENNIS – A proposed policy change by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to mercury and other toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants is drawing opposition from a local environmental organization.

The Association to Preserve Cape Cod recently sent a letter to the EPA’s acting administrator expressing concerns with the proposal which would rollback 2011 regulations which put restrictions on air emissions from power plants to limit neurotoxin exposure.

The agency is proposing the rollback of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards regulations as it has determined that it is not “appropriate and necessary” to regulate hazardous air pollutant emissions from power plants “because the costs of such regulation grossly outweigh the quantified benefits.”

According to the Center for American Progress, the MATS regulations were responsible for an 81 percent reduction in just mercury emissions since 2011. Along with mercury, coal-fired plants release highly toxic substances into the air, including arsenic, lead, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen fluoride, selenium, cadmium and chromium.

Many of the substance are known to be carcinogenic and others can cause significant harm to the central nervous system, ling disorders, kidney damage and other serious health conditions.

According to the EPA’s own estimates, emissions reductions under the MATS regulations would prevent approximately 11,000 premature deaths, 4.700 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks every year.

In the letter to Andrew Wheeler, the APCC pointed to the direct impacts that a lapse in regulations would have on Cape Cod’s environment and public health.

“Being downwind from Midwest coal facilities means that Massachusetts residents, and Cape residents in particular, are going to be subjected to higher levels of neurotoxins like mercury,” said Andrew Gottlieb, the Association to Preserve Cape Cod’s executive director.

Gottlieb said the Northeast is vulnerable from relaxing regulations because the toxins get in the air and are grabbed by falling rain or snow and ends up in our waterways.

“It defies any sense of public health protection to make the argument that increasing the amount of that in the air and ultimately in our bodies is anything other than a giveaway to the coal-fired interests that support this administration,” Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb said the scope of regulation rollbacks by the Trump Administration’s EPA, when it comes to carbon emissions which fuel global warming, uniquely impact Cape Cod.

“Most of what they are coming up with is harmful to the Cape,” he said. “There is no benefit to us for most of the rules that they are proposing to initiate or rollback protections that have been in existence for a number of years.”

Gottlieb said the Trump EPA’s policy has financially benefited 19th Century technology industries.

“They disadvantage innovation in places like Massachusetts where we have become a leader in solar,” Gottlieb said. “There may be short-term economic benefits to some of the things they have proposed, but they don’t benefit anybody in the Massachusetts area, or Cape Cod in particular.”

The APCC, which was founded in 1968, is a nonprofit environmental advocacy and education organization for the Cape Cod region.

It represents thousands of members and works to adopt laws, policies and programs that preserve, protect and enhance the region’s natural resources and quality of life.

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