EPA takes comment on ‘minor’ fixes in MATS for new plants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is issuing for public comment proposed revisions to its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) to address industry complaints that the rule imposes unfair burdens on new coal- and oil-fired power plants.

On Feb. 16, under sections 111 and 112 of the Clean Air Act (CAA), the EPA published the final rules titled “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants from Coal- and Oil-fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units and Standards of Performance for Fossil-Fuel-Fired Electric Utility, Industrial-Commercial-Institutional, and Small Industrial-Commercial-Institutional Steam Generating Units.” The National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) rule issued pursuant to CAA section 112 is referred to as MATS, and the New Source Performance Standards rule issued pursuant to CAA section 111 is referred to as the Utility NSPS.

The EPA administrator received petitions for reconsideration of certain aspects of MATS and the Utility NSPS. EPA said Nov. 16 that it is announcing reconsideration of certain new source standards for MATS, the requirements applicable during periods of startup and shutdown for MATS, the startup and shutdown provisions related to the particulate matter (PM) standard in the Utility NSPS, and certain revisions to the definitional and monitoring provisions of the Utility NSPS. It is also proposing certain technical corrections to both MATS and the Utility NSPS. It is not opening for reconsideration any other provisions of MATS or the Utility NSPS at this time.

“The impacts of today’s proposed revisions on the costs and the benefits of the final rule are minor,” said EPA. “We expect that source owners and operators will install and operate the same or similar control technologies to meet the proposed revised standards in this notice as they would have chosen to comply with the standards in the February 2012 final rule.”

The EPA received petitions for reconsideration, for example, asserting that the agency did not use all the data in the record from the best performing sources in establishing certain final new source emission limits for coal- and oil-fired electric utility steam generating units (EGUs). Specifically, the petitioners maintained that the EPA did not consider all of the data in the record when establishing emission standards for filterable PM and hydrogen chloride (HCl) applicable to new coal-fired EGUs and for filterable PM applicable to new solid oil-derived fuel-fired EGUs.

“In light of petitioners’ assertions, we reviewed the available emissions information in the record for all the new source standards,” EPA said. “We determined that we did not use all the data in the record in establishing the new source emission limits for filterable PM and HCl applicable to new coal-fired EGUs and for filterable PM applicable to new solid oil-derived fuel-fired EGUs. We also identified a few additional new source limits for which we did not use all of the data in the record when setting the standards in the final rule. We are proposing to revise the sulfur dioxide (SO2) limit applicable to solid oil-derived fuel-fired EGUs, the filterable PM limit applicable to continental liquid oil-fired EGUs, and the lead and selenium limits applicable to coal-fired EGUs based on consideration of all the data in the record from the best performing sources for the pollutants at issue. We solicit comment on the revised standards.”

The agency is also soliciting comment on possible revisions to the Hg limit applicable to low rank virgin coal-fired EGUs based on additional data in the record.

The new proposed standards affect only new coal‐ and oil‐fired power plants that will be built in the future. It does not change the final emission limits for existing power plants.

As part of the rulemaking process, EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, and if a public hearing is requested, EPA plans to hold one on Dec. 18 in Washington, DC. EPA said it will issue a final reconsideration in March 2013.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.