The EPA officially published a proposed rule to restrict the types of impacts it can use to calculate the costs and benefits of future regulations, E&E reported Friday. The proposal, published in the Federal Register on Thursday, would end the long-held practice of including “co-benefits,” important secondary costs and benefits of proposed rules, such as the public health benefits of reduced soot from coal-fired power plants and would prohibit the EPA giving special consideration to communities — frequently communities of color — that bear the brunt of environmental risks. The co-benefit of reducing fine particulate matter, or soot, pollution (also described as PM2.5) has been especially impactful in recent years and was a major component of the Obama-era mercury rule strongly opposed by the coal industry. “We know that when you inhale fine particulate matter, they penetrate very deep into your lungs, and they can actually get into your bloodstream, and they initiate a form of inflammation that can cause pneumonia and cardiovascular disease,” said Francesca Dominici, a professor of biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health told E&E. Recent research has linked elevated PM2.5 exposure to increased COVID-19 mortality, and a 2019 study found Black and Latinx populations are exposed to about 60% more soot than is linked to their consumption. (E&E $. Commentary: New England Journal of Medicine, Independent Particulate Matter Review Panel)