A Q&A with Professor Elsie Sunderland on the deregulation of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants
By Leah Burrows, SEAS Communications
On April 16th, the Trump administration gutted a key component of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), a set of regulations designed to compel the country's oil-and-coal-fired power plants to cut emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants. The administration determined that it is not "appropriate and necessary" to regulate mercury under the Clean Air Act and that the costs of doing so would far outweigh the public health benefits.
However, environmental scientists and public health experts disagree with that rationale. There is strong evidence that rolling back mercury regulations will cost billions of dollars and will have a sweeping impact on public health in the United States, especially in the country's most vulnerable communities.
We spoke with Elsie Sunderland, the Gordon McKay Professor of Environmental Chemistry at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) about the impact of this decision.