At long last, the US EPA has set new standards to limit mercury and other toxic emissions from industrial boilers and cement kilns. Here is a link to the official material:
Health and environmental groups are less than thrilled with the results (particularly the cement rules to quote one of our correspondents: "They still s*&k.") since these are weaker standards than EPA had previously put forth. Can you hear the sound of one hand clapping?
The Washington Post reports http://wapo.st/T5GlOK
that a White House aide brokered a deal with industry and then leaned on EPA to soften some requirements to make them more politically palatable. To cite the old cliche, is the perfect the enemy of the good? [The EPA fact sheet on this at http://www.epa.gov/airquality/combustion/docs/20121221_sum_overview_boiler_ciswi_fs.pdf
does note that the new version of the boiler standards would make bigger cuts in mercury and sulfur dioxide emissions than an earlier March 2011 rule would have, though the new version would allow higher emissions of non-mercury metals, direct particulate matter and volatile organic compounds.]
It is clear that maximum health protection lost out to political considerations. And this suggests that the Obama administration may take more of a conciliatory approach to industry in its second term.