MATS: The Means to a Healthier Environment and More Profitable Farming Industry

The rule to control the emission of toxic acid gases and heavy metals, a mandate that has met the resistance of power plant owners and operators for about two decades, will finally be upheld, leading to the possible prevention of asthma and heart attack each year.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was firm in its decision in 2012 in enforcing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS, a new regulation that will strictly limit the emission of hazardous substances, like mercury, hydrochloric acid, arsenic and other deadly pollutants. The EPA orders various power plants to abide by its stipulation by 2017.

Presently, about 53 tons of mercury emanates from US-coal-fired power plants annually; the full implementation of MATS in 2017 will eliminate as much as 90% of this. Burning of municipal garbage and medical waste also contributed about the same amounts of heavy-metal smog twenty years ago. Since these acts were checked, however, the bulk of mercury emission has been blamed on leaving power plants.

With the new rule, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expects to save about 130,000 individuals from asthma attacks, around 4,700 people from having heart attacks and about 11,000 US residents from suffering early deaths.

Though it is true that upgrade of equipment to meet MATS standard may be costly, amounting to about $10 billion every year, this amount can easily be dislodged by profit, which can reach up to $90 billion annually, due to reduction in crop damages as well as improvement in health.

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Larry Benneth+