The Environmental Protection Agency plans to reaffirm its authority to regulate toxic mercury from power plant smokestacks.
The EPA action restores the 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rules imposed under former President Barack Obama.
The rules were nixed under the Trump administration in 2020 when they were deemed not “appropriate and necessary.”
The 2012 rule requires significant reductions in emissions of mercury, acid gases and other harmful pollutants, primarily by coal-fired power plants.
According to the agency, mercury emissions were down significantly five years after the rule took effect.
Mercury emissions went down 86% in 2017 compared to 2010.
Acid gas emissions were also reduced by 96% during that time.
Now that the standard will be implemented again, other hazardous pollutants apart from mercury will also be monitored.
The EPA said this will improve public health by reducing the risk of heart attacks, cancer and reducing delays in brain development in children.
Most coal-fired power plants have already made the technological upgrades required by the 2012 rule.
The agency will take public comment on the proposal for 60 days and will hold a virtual public hearing on the rules.