New Finding for Mercury Air Toxics Proposed by EPA

Posted on 1/10/2019 by Roger Marks

US EPA closed out 2018 with a new proposal to revise its Supplemental Cost Finding for the 2012 Mercury Air Toxics Standards (MATS) Final Rule. In it, the Agency states that it is not “appropriate and necessary” to regulate hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions from coal- or oil-fired electricity generating units (EGUs).

This adjustment to EPA’s finding will not impact air quality standards established in the February 2012 MATS rule, nor will it eliminate the Clean Air Act Section 112 source category for coal- and oil-fired EGUs. EPA has also decided that further reducing the limits for mercury and other toxic air pollutants from these sources is not necessary at this time.

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What's in EPA's New MATS Proposal?

The new MATS proposal signifies a reversal for EPA. EPA previously found that regulations to control HAP emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants were needed. EPA now believes that prior administrations erred by failing to fully consider the costs to industry during their Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA).

EPA also believes the previous administration relied too heavily on “co-benefits” of the 2012 Final Rule, such as reductions in particulate matter achieved by installing pollution control equipment as the rule required. These “co-benefits” should not be counted, EPA now believes, because mercury—and not other pollutants—was the direct target of the 2012 rule.

EPA was required to review the MATS Rule after the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Agency unreasonably interpreted Federal law by failing to consider costs to industry in the 2015 case Michigan v. EPA.
EPA is also accepting comment on whether to repeal or change the 2012 MATS Final Rule. Given that many power plants have already spent the money to upgrade their facilities and control pollution, some industry leaders have stated publicly that a repeal would be of little benefit.

Stakeholders can find more information about EPA’s latest MATS proposal here.

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Tags: Clean Air Act, EPA compliance,, MATS rule, Mercury Air Toxics Standards, new rules

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