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EPA Proposes To Restate The Underpinnings Of Mercury Emission Standards For Power Plants

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week finished reviewing the 2020 Reconsideration of the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS) Supplemental Cost Finding and Residual Risk and Technology Review (RTR) for coal and oil-fired electric generating units (EGUs).

As part of the review EPA is now proposing to revoke the May 2020 finding that it is not appropriate or necessary to regulate coal and oil-fired EGUs under Clean Air Act section 112.

After considering costs, the agency reaffirms its April 2016 finding that it remains appropriate and necessary to regulate hazardous air pollutants (HAP) emissions from EGUs.

EPA is proposing an “alternative formal benefit-cost approach to make the appropriate and necessary determination.”

Under this approach, the agency proposes to conclude that it remains appropriate to regulate HAP emissions from EGUs after considering costs. The benefit-cost analysis issued with the MATS rule “indicated that the total net benefits of MATS were overwhelming; even though EPA was only able to monetize one of many statutorily identified benefits of regulating HAP emissions from EGUs,” EPA said.

EPA is seeking comments on all aspects of the proposal and wants information on the performance and costs of new or improved technologies to control HAPs.

EPA is seeking this information to inform its ongoing review of the RTR. The result of the RTR review will be included in a separate agency action.

According to the EPA, there are no anticipated costs or benefits because no regulatory amendments or impacts are associated with reviewing the appropriate and necessary finding.

A copy of the pre-publication Federal Register notice is available here. The proposal will be open for public comment for 60 days upon publication in the Federal Register. A virtual hearing will be held 15 days after publication.

APPA, Other Groups Urged EPA To Sustain The Mercury Rule

The American Public Power Association in 2019 was joined by other power industry trade groups, labor unions, generators and an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in urging the EPA to sustain the MATS rule given that industry has already fully implemented MATS.