EPA Insists Costs Taken Into Account for Mercury Rule

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The Environmental Protection Agency insisted it did follow its own rules in blocking the new toxic mercury role and heavy rain in Chile of affecting copper production.

The Environmental Protection Agency Friday issued an updated cost analysis, defending its issuance of the first-ever federal regulations requiring power plants to cut mercury emissions and other toxic air pollutants.

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The agency’s move was prompted by a Supreme Court ruling last year that said the agency hadn’t taken into account the costs to industry, as it was required to do, before deciding to adopt the rules.

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion last June, said the EPA must reconsider the mercury rules because of that omission. The rules, however, have remained in effect during that process.

The EPA initially adopted the mercury rules in 2012 and they took effect in April 2015. The agency initially concluded that costs weren’t a relevant consideration when it was deciding on the need for the mercury regulations.

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Later, as it was writing the rule, the agency estimated an annual cost to the utility sector of $9.6 billion, compared with public-health benefits of at least $37 billion. The Supreme Court, however, said the agency should have made that calculation earlier, as it was deciding whether to adopt the rules in the first place.

Chilean Rains Halt Copper Mining

Heavy rains in central Chile have prompted global miner Anglo American Plc. and state-owned producer Codelco to temporarily suspend operations at two major copper mines with combined annual capacity of 880,000 metric tons.

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