EPA rejects final issues with MATS, utility emissions rules

power plant emissions 4 elp

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is rejecting all remaining issues that it hasn't previously addressed related to the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and another air rule.

EPA will have in the April 30 Federal Register a notice that it has responded to 23 petitions for reconsideration of the final rules titled National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) From Coal- and Oil-Fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units and Standards of Performance (NSPS) for Fossil-Fuel-Fired Electric Utility, Industrial-Commercial-Institutional, and Small Industrial Commercial-Institutional Steam Generating Units, published in the Federal Register in February 2012.

The agency previously granted reconsideration on several discrete issues and took final action on reconsideration through documents published in the Federal Register in April 2013 and November 2014. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy denied the remaining requests for reconsideration in separate letters to the petitioners dated April 21.

The EPA received 20 petitions for reconsideration of the MATS rule and three petitions for reconsideration of the Utility NSPS. The EPA received petitions for reconsideration of the MATS rule from organizations including: American Public Power Association, Babcock & Wilcox, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Climate Policy Group, Coal Utilization Research Council, Earthjustice, East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Edgecombe/Spruance Genco, Edison Mission Energy, FirstEnergy, Hawaiian Electric, Power4Georgians and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

Said the April 30 notice: "The EPA carefully reviewed the petitions and evaluated each issue raised in the petitions for reconsideration to determine if they meet the CAA section 307(d)(7)(B) criteria for reconsideration. The EPA denied the remaining issues in the petitions for reconsideration because they do not meet the criteria for reconsideration and/or are moot as explained in detail in the Reconsideration Response Document. That document articulates in detail the rationale for the EPA’s final response to each of the remaining issues in the petitions for reconsideration received on the final MATS rule and the Utility NSPS.

"As explained in the Reconsideration Response Document, a significant majority of the issues raised in the petitions for reconsideration were or could have been raised in comments on the proposed MATS and Utility NSPS. In addition, many of the parties that filed petitions for reconsideration of the final MATS and Utility NSPS also filed petitions for review of the final rules in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Court or D.C. Circuit). Many of the issues raised in the petitions for reconsideration were also raised in the D.C. Circuit litigation, and other reconsideration issues could have been raised in that litigation. On April 15, 2014, the Court denied all petitions for review of MATS and the Utility NSPS. White Stallion Energy Center v. EPA, 784 F.3d 1222 (D.C. Cir. 2014); cert. granted, State of Michigan v. EPA, No. 14-46 (and consolidated cases). As the Court may only consider issues raised during the period for public comment, issues raised in the litigation and addressed by the Court clearly do not meet the criteria for reconsideration in CAA section 307(d)(7)(B). Moreover, parties may not use this final action denying reconsideration as a basis to litigate issues that could have been raised in the initial litigation."

Notable is that MATS took initial effect on April 16 of this year, with this rule alone causing the retirement of thousands of MWs of coal-fired capacity across the U.S. One of the objecting parties, Power4Georgians, has been trying for years to develop a coal-fired power plant in Georgia.

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