E.P.A. to Reconsider Obama-Era Curbs on Mercury Emissions by Power Plants

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is reviewing a major Obama-era clean air regulation on the emission of mercury — a pollutant linked with damage to the brain, to the nervous system and to fetal development — with the intent of proposing a replacement rule, a spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.

The E.P.A.’s review of the 2011 mercury rule comes amid a string of initiatives by the Trump administration to roll back or weaken many environmental regulations put forth by the Obama administration. After reviewing the rule, a process which typically takes 60 to 90 days, the E.P.A. will issue a proposed replacement rule, the agency spokeswoman, Molly Block, said in an email.

The mercury regulation under review chiefly affects pollution from coal-fired power plants. The move comes as President Trump has pressed forward on numerous fronts in an attempt to meet his campaign pledge to revive the nation’s coal industry, despite economic analyses showing that the decline in demand for coal is largely driven by market forces rather than regulations.

Last week, the E.P.A. proposed a new rule designed to replace the Clean Power Plan, another major Obama-era regulation governing coal-fired power plants. That rule would have restricted coal plants’ emission of a different pollutant: carbon dioxide, one of the chief causes of global warming.

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