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The rule includes proposed standards for mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases, and replaces the previous Administration's Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR), which was struck down in court February 2008. Following the ruling, the agency entered into a consent decree in October 2009 that set the current schedule. Unlike its boiler and transport rules, the agency did not ask for an extension for the new mercury regulations, suggesting that the rule as proposed reflects what the EPA actually envisions for a final regulation.
Many power plants, particularly coal-fired, will have to purchase control equipment within the next four years to meet the regulations. The EPA is touting the rule as "leveling the playing field" for coal plants that have already installed technologies to control mercury, etc.
Gina McCarthy, the agency's air guru, previewed this rule at this year's EUEC conference in Phoenix, noting then that power plants are the largest source of these air pollutants, e.g.coal-fired power plants alone account for about half of the nation's mercury emissions. According to an agency release, over half of all coal-fired power plants currently deploy pollution control technologies that would allow them to meet these standards; the rule would require the rest (44 percent of the industry) to do so as well.
"Today's announcement is 20 years in the making, and is a significant milestone in the Clean Air Act's already unprecedented record of ensuring our children are protected from the damaging effects of toxic air pollution," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. "With the help of existing technologies, we will be able to take reasonable steps that will provide dramatic protections to our children and loved ones, preventing premature deaths, heart attacks, and asthma attacks."
In October 2009, EPA entered into a consent decree that required a proposal to be signed by March 16, 2011, and a final rule to be completed by November 2011.
The public comment period will last 60 days after appearing in the Federal Register. PE will announce that, and expected public hearings as they become available, but mid- to late-May is a good estimate.
SOURCE: EPA press release