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EPA Finalizes Mercury Reconsideration  (6/3/06)

On May 31, 2006, EPA announced its final decision with respect to reconsidering several aspects of the Agency’s March 29, 2005 Electric Utility Delisting Rule (Section 112(n) Revision Rule).  EPA also announced its final decision with respect to reconsidering certain issues in the May 18, 2005 Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR). 

After considering petitions for reconsideration, EPA decided not to revise its final Section 112(n) Revision Rule other than explaining, in more detail, what the Agency meant by the effectiveness element in the term “necessary.”  EPA made two substantive changes in CAMR: (1) revised some State mercury allocations and (2) revised the new source performance standards (NSPS).  Several commenters provided data indicating EPA erred in the mercury allocations for Alaska because it failed to include a coal-fired unit located in that State.  EPA agreed, added the heat input for that unit, and made the appropriate adjustment to the Alaska budget.  However, because of the relatively small adjustment required coupled with the significant figures in the State budgets, EPA had to revise only six other State mercury budgets.

Many commenters expressed concern over the statistical analysis EPA used to develop NSPS mercury emission limits.  EPA did not find it necessary to revise its statistical approach, although the Agency did correct some mathematical errors in the original statistical analysis.  EPA’s final NSPS mercury emission limits are as follows.  (Note that compliance with the NSPS limits is based on continuous monitoring data and determined on a 12-month rolling average basis.) 

Bituminous coal: 20 x 10-6 lb/MWh
Subbituminous coal (wet units) 66 x 10-6 lb/MW
Subbituminous coal (dry units) 97 x 10-6 lb/MWh  
Lignite coal 175 x 10-6 lb/MWh    
Coal refuse 16 x 10-6 lb/MWh 
Integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) 20 x 10-6 lb/MWh  

EPA’s final reconsideration decision somewhat takes on the characteristics of a “good news” and “bad news” story.  The good news is that if you have read and comprehended the requirements of CAMR, then you will not need much remedial training.  The bad news is that now that EPA has completed its reconsideration process, mountainous litigation can and undoubtedly will begin.  Moreover, we probably cannot reasonably expect a decision from the D. C. Court of Appeals before the end of 2007.  Generally speaking, electric utilities do not have the luxury of waiting for the Court’s decision and still be able to meet the CAMR monitoring deadlines!

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Last Revised: January 31, 2007