The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued today the first national standards to control mercury and other toxic air pollutants from coal-fired power plants. These standards follow from the bi-partisan 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments that mandated that EPA require control of toxic air pollutants including mercury.

Following is statement by Kevin Kennedy, U.S. Climate Director, World Resources Institute:

“Just in time for the holidays, the EPA has taken a big step toward protecting people and the environment with the release of new mercury standards for power plants. This announcement demonstrates a balanced and responsible approach by the EPA, which has developed these standards through a lengthy, deliberate process involving many stakeholders.

“In fact, these standards have been in development for over 20 years. Many plants are already meeting the standards, and 11 of the 15 largest coal utilities have already informed their shareholders that they are well positioned to comply with them.

“Furthermore, these standards are achievable using current technology and provide sufficient flexibility to protect electric system reliability. While some older coal plants may be pushed toward retirement, this will help expedite a shift to newer and more efficient plants, or other alternate energy sources.

“EPA has taken a significant step toward cleaner air, and we hope to see more progress to protect public health from air pollutants, including greenhouse gases, in the coming year.”

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Read WRI's analysis of the new mercury rules, here and here.