Skip to main content

Air Toxics: Mercury & Power Plants

Case Overview

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency exempted power plants from Clean Air Act regulations, even though these power plants emit into the air tons of mercury and other toxins—known threats to human health.

In February 2008, a federal appeals court ruled that the EPA did not have the authority to exempt the power plants.

In April 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the EPA’s 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Rule (MATS).

MATS will annually prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, nearly 5,000 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks, and more than 540,000 missed days of work days. It will also protect babies and children from exposures to mercury than can damage their ability to develop and learn. The EPA has estimated that every year, more than 300,000 newborns face elevated risk of learning disabilities due to exposure to mercury in the womb.

(This case is now closed. To learn about recent Earthjustice litigation to clean up the air we breathe, visit the Clean Air Focus Area.)

Case Updates

November 14, 2014 | Legal Document

Industry Opposition to MATS Challenge

Industry petition filed with the Supreme Court opposing an industry challenge to EPA's 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Rule

November 14, 2014 | Legal Document

Environmental Opposition to MATS Challenge

Environmental argument filed with the US Supreme Court against industry’s last attempt to challenge the EPA's 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Rule

May 16, 2014 | Blog Post

Courts Demand Clean Air for Americans

Over the last few weeks, the nation’s federal courts—including the Supreme Court—have blessed Americans with four major clean air victories.

May 15, 2013 | Blog Post

Advocates From 50 States Call for Health Standards

When our elected officials continue standing in the way of clean air and water—it’s time to shake things up. Which is why more than 100 physicians, tribal and labor leaders, clergy, nurses and parents are in Washington, D.C., for a 3-day visit with Congress, united as 50 States United for Healthy Air.

This legion of clean air and water advocates are meeting with members of Congress to call for greater protections from smog, coal ash, carbon and other dangerous air pollutants.

It’s a big day for our lungs and our health.