On Thursday, EPA finalized revisions to the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS (also known as “Utility MACT”). The most significant change was to revise the mercury emissions standard from 0.0002 pounds per gigawatt-hour to 0.003 pounds per gigawatt-hour. The change was made in response to comments suggesting that the more stringent standard simply wasn’t attainable. EPA notes that attainment of the 0.003 lb/GWh will still require installation of the same types of pollution control equipment.
I think that the real impact of the change – almost none – is demonstrated by the statement from Scott Segal, who represents the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council:
It is an admission there was a problem with the rule and it’s a step in the right direction to help minimize the impact to new sources. But it’s by no means an indication the agency is committed to even-handed treatment of fossil fuels.
If Scott Segal is hoping for “even-handed” treatment of fossil fuels by EPA, he’s going to be waiting a while.