On April 16, the US Environmental Protection Agency issued a final ruling that removes the legal basis for regulating emissions of mercury and other hazardous pollutants from oil- and coal-fired power plants.

Janet McCabe, a professor of practice at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law and director of IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute, served in the Office of Air and Radiation at the EPA from November 2009 through January 2017.

While at the EPA, McCabe helped write the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule to curb toxic power plant emissions. In May 2019, she testified on mercury regulation to the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

“This is a sad day for public health protection in the United States and sets a very troubling precedent for how the EPA evaluates the impact of policy on public health," McCabe said.

“Though the Administration claims otherwise, this ruling puts at risk years of progress to reduce the public’s exposure to toxic pollutants like mercury that accumulate in the environment. The MATS rule has been an overwhelming success, with mercury emissions from US coal plants decreasing 85 percent between 2006 and 2016 and mercury levels in water and fish also decreasing during this time period.

“The power industry itself asked the Administration to leave MATS alone because companies have already complied, but the EPA has decided to move forward anyway. This reflects the Administration’s view of all rules intended to protect public access to clean air and water as barriers to business interests. It’s another favor to the coal industry.”