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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Comments to EPA on the proposed mercury and air toxics (MATS) rule

By   May 14th, 2023 36 Comments @ CFACT

My name is Bonner Cohen, and I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the agency’s proposed MATS rulemaking on behalf of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT).

I will confine my remarks to one key aspect of the proposal. This is the first time EPA has updated its MATS standards since 2012. Those standards, which were part of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) were subsequently overturned in a landmark Supreme Court Case, Michigan v. EPA. In its decision, the Supreme Court faulted the agency for proposing a rule in which EPA’s estimate of the costs far exceeded the agency’s estimate of the benefits. The benefits were put at $4-6 million a year while the costs were pegged at as high as $9.6 billion a year. Noting this enormous difference in its decision to overturn the 2012 rule, the court said “[n]o regulation is ‘appropriate’ if it does significantly more harm than good.”

Now, 11 years later, EPA is putting forward another MATS rulemaking, only this time the agency has not offered any estimate of the direct benefits of its proposal. Instead, the agency cites Section 112 of the Clean Air Act (CAA), which deals with Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) for its statutory authority for the MATS rule, but fails to provide a HAPs-related justification for its rulemaking.

This is an end-run around the law. Congress passed Section 112 to deal specifically with HAPs. EPA is now using Section 112 to address non-HAPs issues. Instead, the agency cites alleged ancillary benefits, such as PM2.5 ancillary benefits, to justify the rule. Whereas is the 2012 rule, EPA did identify a small amount of mercury emissions reduction to justify its action, in the current rulemaking proposal, it did not identify a single dollar of direct benefits from reducing mercury emissions from power plants.

As such, today’s proposal is on even shakier legal ground that the 2012 MATS rulemaking the Supreme Court struck down.

The agency’s current rulemaking faces the near certainty of a court challenge, one that is likely to end the same way as EPA’s ill-fated 2012 proposal. Playing it fast and loose with the Clean Air Act is not sound environmental policy.

Thank you very much.

Bonner Russell Cohen, Ph. D.

Senior Analyst

Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow


  • Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

    Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT, where he focuses on natural resources, energy, property rights, and geopolitical developments. Articles by Dr. Cohen have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Busines Daily, The New York Post, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Times, The Hill, The Epoch Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Miami Herald, and dozens of other newspapers around the country. He has been interviewed on Fox News, Fox Business Network, CNN, NBC News, NPR, BBC, BBC Worldwide Television, N24 (German-language news network), and scores of radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. He has testified before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. Dr. Cohen has addressed conferences in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Bangladesh. He has a B.A. from the University of Georgia and a Ph. D. – summa cum laude – from the University of Munich.

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