U.S. EPA will reconsider parts of mercury rule
THE U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL Protection Agency announced July 23 that it has agreed to review technical aspects of its new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule as it applies to the construction of new coal-fired power plants.
The Boilermakers union and other parties involved in constructing new plants had petitioned the EPA for the review, questioning the feasibility of controlling and measuring very low levels of pollutants with available technology, a requirement under the MATS rule. Other petitioners included Sunflower Electric Power, Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group, Tenaska Trailblazer Partners, Deseret Power Electric Cooperative, White Stallion Energy Center, Tri-State Generation Transmission Association, and the Coal Utilization Research Council. The future of five new power plants in Kansas, Georgia, Texas, and Utah could be affected by the reconsideration.
In a letter sent to the petitioners, EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy advised that the agency would reconsider “certain new source issues, including measurement issues related to mercury and the data set to which the variability calculation was applied when establishing the new source standards for particulate matter and hydrochloric acid.”
The agency said it would expedite the review and complete the reconsideration rulemaking by March 2013.
Legislative Director Cecile Conroy said the EPA reconsideration announcement is positive news. “We have been working with other unions and industry groups, as well as independently, to keep the EPA and the White House informed about the negative impacts that their court-ordered regulatory work could have on Boilermaker jobs and the industry’s future. We won’t know the outcome of this particular rulemaking reconsideration until March, but it is evidence that the EPA is at least hearing our concerns.”
In addition to petitions filed with the EPA, some energy companies have filed lawsuits against the agency, and federal courts have vowed to expedite the cases.