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EPA scraps Trump rule that weakened air pollution regulations

05/13/2021 | 12:25pm EDT

WASHINGTON, May 13 (Reuters) - The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday moved to scrap a Trump-era rule that it said jeopardized public health and hindered clean air rules.

The Trump administration's "Benefit-Cost Rule," finalized in December 2020 during the last month of Donald Trump's presidency, had instructed the EPA to disregard "co-benefits" of any proposed regulation. A co-benefit from a proposed rule limiting emissions of one toxic substance, for example, could include cuts in other pollutants not directly targeted by the proposal.

“Revoking this unnecessary and misguided rule is proof positive of this administration's commitment to science,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

He said the Trump rule had hamstrung the agency's ability to use the best available science to develop Clean Air Act regulations and was "inconsistent with economic best practices."

Trump had imposed the Benefit-Cost rule mainly in reaction to the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule that had been adopted by his predecessor President Barack Obama's administration. In its justification for MATS, the Obama administration accounted for indirect benefits of installing mercury pollution-control equipment at coal plants that included things like reduction of deadly emissions of particulate matter.

Trump's EPA said the costs of compliance with that rule far outweighed the direct public health benefits of slashing mercury emissions alone.

The American Lung Association on Thursday welcomed the change by the EPA and said the previous rule overlooked the health problems caused by air pollution.

"The steps the nation takes to clean up toxic air pollutants, including mercury and acid gases, have saved thousands of lives thanks to reductions of particle pollution in our air at the same time," said ALA President Harold Wimmer.

Industry groups ranging from the American Chemistry Council to the National Mining Association had praised the Trump-era rule saying previous benefit-cost analyzes resulted in tougher restrictions on their industries.

The new rule will take effect in 30 days. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Shumaker)

© Reuters 2021
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