The transition to 2012 has brought two important developments in federal Clean Air Act rules that may affect power plants across the US. In late December, the US Environmental Protection Agency finalized the new power plant emissions standards for mercury, acid gases, and non-mercury metallic toxic pollutants (including arsenic, chromium, nickel, and others) for new and existing coal- and oil-fired utility steam generating units. Dubbed the “Utility MACT,” these new standards apply in all 50 states and will affect many of the nationʼs 1,400 oil- and coal-fired electric steam generating units at approximately 600 power plants throughout the country. This marks the first time that EPA has set national emissions limits on mercury from power plants.
Meanwhile, on December 30, 2011, the DC Circuit Court stayed implementation of EPAʼs new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (“CSAPR” or the “Transport Rule”), finalized in July 2011, while the court considers the legality of the rule. The Transport Rule regulates certain power plant emissions in 27 states in the eastern half of the US, including Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois.