|Abstract Title:||The benefits of controls of mercury emissions in the U.S.|
|Presenter Name:||Charles Driscoll|
|Session:||Mercury Regulatory and Policy Matters|
|Co-Authors:||Charles Driscoll,Benjamin Geyman,Colin Thackray,Elsie Sunderland|
Abstract Information :
Mercury is a naturally occurring, but highly toxic, element. The amount of mercury in ecosystems has been greatly increased by human releases associated with mining, fossil-fuel combustion, and other activities. Since the 1970s, coal-fired electricity generating units (power plants) have been one of the largest sources of U.S. mercury emissions. Although U.S. Congress created a mechanism for regulating mercury emissions from electric utilities through the 1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act, their regulatory status has been challenged since that time. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, promulgated in 2011, have led to marked decreases in mercury emissions and environmental mercury concentrations, but the benefits and costs of this regulation have been poorly characterized and quantified in prior analyses. In this presentation, patterns and sources of mercury emissions in the U.S., the cycling of mercury in the environment, and risks to human and ecological health associated with mercury exposure will be discussed. We will summarize the history of federal regulation of mercury emissions in the U.S.; observed environmental and human health responses to regulation; and recent advances in scientific research that have informed quantitative understanding of the benefits of reduced mercury loading to the environment. We make recommendations for conducting a state-of-the-science analysis of the benefits from regulating mercury emissions from U.S. coal-fired utilities.