Manchin, Republicans Fight Mercury Emission Rule - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Manchin, Republicans Fight Mercury Emission Rule

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -

Sen. Joe Manchin is joining a Republican senator's lead on formally marking disapproval of federal power plant emissions limits.

Manchin has previously introduced legislation that would delay the implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency's Utility Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. The standards are designed to limit exposure to mercury and other air toxics from U.S. power plants.

"From the day I arrived in the Senate, I have been determined to stop the EPA's jobs-killing agenda, and this Resolution of Disapproval takes an important step to rein in this out-of-control agency," Manchin said in a Tuesday release. "The EPA needs to be our ally, not our adversary, and work with states like West Virginia that can produce domestic resources to make this country less dependent on foreign energy and more secure as a nation. I'm very hopeful that in the coming weeks we will finally be able come together across the aisle to bring a balance to our environment and economy – and develop a true comprehensive energy policy."

The rule was finalized by the EPA in December.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., thanked Manchin for joining him in filing a Resolution of Disapproval under the Congressional Review Act.

"A growing number of elected officials are working across the aisle to save coal, and the first Senate Democrats are beginning to come aboard. I want to commend Senator Joe Manchin, who happens to be occupying the chair at this time," Senator Inhofe said on the Senate floor.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute released a report called "All Pain and No Gain" earlier this month stating that the Utility MACT rule would impose large cost burdens with negligible health benefits.

"The Utility MACT Rule will also effectively ban the construction of new coal-fired power plants, by establishing compliance criteria that may be impossible to monitor (in the case of mercury) or to meet (in the case of hydrogen chloride)," the report concluded. "In this fashion, it will erect a regulatory barrier between America and our most abundant electricity fuel."

CEI is a non-profit organization that focuses fighting government regulation. The group is an outspoken skeptic of climate change as a result of human causes.

In fact sheets published about the Utility MACT rule, the EPA says the public actually benefits both financially and in health measures.

"EPA's MATS standards are practical, cost‐effective, and protective. After proposal, EPA received more than 900,000 comments," the EPA states. "Based on this input and data, the agency has finalized standards that follow the law, maintain vital and significant health benefits and can be implemented for $9.6 billion, about a billion dollars less than the proposed standards. That means that for every dollar spent to reduce pollution, Americans get $3‐9 in health benefits in return."

When the EPA announced the rule in December, it estimated that the standards would prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks a year. It also estimated it would be preventing 130,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms and about 6,300 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children each year. 

"By cutting emissions that are linked to developmental disorders and respiratory illnesses like asthma, these standards represent a major victory for clean air and public health– and especially for the health of our children. With these standards that were two decades in the making, EPA is rounding out a year of incredible progress on clean air in America with another action that will benefit the American people for years to come," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will protect millions of families and children from harmful and costly air pollution and provide the American people with health benefits that far outweigh the costs of compliance."