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March 2011 target set for EPA mercury proposal

19 Apr 2010 21:49 (+01:00 GMT)
March 2011 target set for EPA mercury proposal

Washington, 19 April (Argus) — A federal court approved a settlement April 15 between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and environmental and public health groups setting deadlines for regulations of air toxics from oil- and coal-fired power plants.

The agency must propose a rule setting a maximum achievable control technology (Mact) emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants, including mercury, from new and existing coal- and oil-fired electric utility steam generating units (EGUs) by March 2011 and finalize the rule by November 2011. The dozens of air toxics to be regulated also include lead, arsenic, acid gases, nickel and dioxins.

Under section 112 of the Clean Air Act, existing power plants would have to comply with the standards no later than November 2014.

In the consent decree, EPA committed to publish a final rule by November 16, 2011, and the court acknowledged industry's concern that the schedule “may be too hasty for the critical and expensive regulatory decisions that will be made; however, the proposed consent decree allows for a change of schedule if need be,” Judge Rosemary Collyer said.

The consent decree was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia and stems from a complaint filed in December 2008 against EPA for failing to promulgate the standards.

“If the science and analysis require more time, EPA can obtain it. In the meantime, as the plaintiffs pointedly note, these emissions were listed in 2000 and more than a decade will have passed before they are regulated,” Collyer wrote.

Under the Bush administration in March 2005, EPA finalized a rule to remove EGUs from the list of industries for which Mact standards must be promulgated under section 112. EPA then finalized a rule establishing a cap-and-trade program for mercury from coal-fired EGUs only. Both rules were vacated by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2008.

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