Coal has taken its lumps this week. Today, legislation was introduced in Congress to require EPA to promulgate MACT standards for mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants within one year of enactment of the legislation.
There has been some suggestion that the legislation was filed simply to prod EPA to drop its appeal of the decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejecting EPA’s Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR), which would have created a cap and trade program for mercury emissions. If so, it worked, if only by telepathy, because, in a separate announcement today, EPA withdrew that appeal.
One way or another, it is clear that EPA will be promulgating, as soon as it reasonably can manage, MACT standards for mercury emissions. What is also clear is that complying with those standards will be more expensive than compliance with the CAMR would have been. What’s not clear is whether EPA will figure out a way to harmonize the mercury rule with other air rules issued and to be issued, so that, while compliance will have to occur on a facility-specific basis, it can at least be achieved as cost-effectively as possible at each facility.