Political News

New York Times: Trump administration expected to roll back regulations on mercury and air pollutants

Posted April 16, 2020 12:58 p.m. EDT

— The Trump administration is expected to deliver a win for the struggling coal industry on Thursday by relaxing the way it regulates mercury and other air pollutants, another move to roll back environmental policies during the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reported Thursday.

A rule from the Environmental Protection Agency will decrease regulations on the "release of mercury and other toxic metals from oil and coal-fired power plants," but not completely remove restrictions on the release of mercury, the Times reported.

Asked for comment on the Times report, a spokesperson for the EPA told CNN, "Once the interagency process is complete, and the final action is signed by the administrator, it will be publicly available, along with its supporting analysis and a document that responds to comments received during the comment period."

Environmental advocacy groups and Democrats have urged the administration to halt rollbacks as the virus continues to spread across the United States. Last month, the EPA announced it was reducing enforcement of environmental regulations and fines for companies, citing social distancing and employee shortages because of the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the agency announced a proposal that would leave pollution standards unchanged, going against the recommendations of some of its own scientists.

"The US has made incredible strides in reducing particulate matter concentrations across the nation," EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said on Tuesday. "Based on review of the scientific literature and recommendation from our independent science advisors, we are proposing to retain existing (particulate matter) standards which will ensure the continued protection of both public health and the environment."

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