EPA Issues Technical Corrections to MATS and Utility NSPS

Posted on 4/6/2016 by Roger Marks

In February 2012, US EPA finalized a Clean Air Act rulemaking to establish national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP) from coal- and oil-fired electric utility steam generating units (EGUs). These rules are known as Mercury Air Toxics Standards, or MATS. In addition, the 2012 Final Rule created the “Utility NSPS,” EPA’s name for national source performance standards (NSPS) for the fossil-fuel-fired steam generating units.  (77 FR 9303)

Three years later, in February 2015, EPA proposed corrections to this major Final Rule. The changes proposed in 2015 were intended to:
  • Resolve conflicts between the Rule’s preamble and regulatory text;
  • Make corrections inadvertently left out of the 2012 Final Rule; and
  • Clarify language in the regulatory text.
Now, EPA has submitted a Final Rule for publication in the Federal Register that will make the corrections final and correct additional items identified since the original corrections were proposed last year.

US EPA MATS clean air act rules for power plants
Affirmative Defense for Clean Air Act Violations During Malfunction

In its corrections to the 2012 Final Rule, US EPA proposed to remove an affirmative defense to civil penalties for violations caused by malfunctions. Sometimes, despite EHS personnel’s best efforts to comply with the Clean Air Act, an equipment or control malfunction can cause emissions in excess of acceptable thresholds. When this happens, an “affirmative defense” is designed to help shield the business from prosecution.  

The affirmative defense for malfunctions referenced in the 2012 rulemaking was vacated by a DC Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014 in the case NRDC v. EPA. Therefore, US EPA has removed it from the Final Rule.

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Tags: Act, Air, Clean, EPA, new rules

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