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EPA Finalizes Power Plant Pollution Standards

The EPA has finalized pollution limits for new power plants, setting emissions limits for mercury and toxic air pollutants like arsenic, acid gas, nickel, selenium and cyanide.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards sets limits for mercury emissions at 0.003 pound/GWh, a slightly higher rate than the 0.002 pound/GWh initial limit set in December 2011. In 2012, the agency agreed to review those limits after a challenge by industry. The standards have since been the subject of ongoing lawsuits by companies and counter-suits by nonprofits.

After considering dozens of public comments from industry and environmental groups, the EPA announced the finalized standards last Friday. The finalized rule limits filterable particulate matter emissions from new coal-fired power plants to 0.09 pound/MWh and hydrogen chloride to 0.01 pound/MWh. It restricts sulfur dioxide to 1.0 pound/MWh from coal-fired power plants, and lead to 0.02 pound/GWh.

The standards only apply to future power plants and do not change the types of pollution control technology that plants would install.

According to the agency, the standards will prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks every year.

Also on March 28, the EPA proposed stricter rules on gasoline and vehicle emissions and updates to the agency’s 2012 performance standards for storage tanks used in oil and natural gas production.

The proposed updates to the oil and gas storage tank standards reflect recent information showing that more higher-volume storage tanks will be coming on line than the agency originally estimated, the EPA says. The updates would also provide storage tank owners and operators additional time to comply with a requirement to reduce volatile organic compound emissions while equipment to reduce those emissions is being manufactured.

EPA will take comment on today’s proposal for 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register and will hold a public hearing if requested.


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One thought on “EPA Finalizes Power Plant Pollution Standards

  1. Boiler MACT
    On March 21, 2011, the EPA published and enacted into law “ Boiler MACT” (Maximum Achievable Control Technology). Requirements of this legislation were put on hold until January 31, 2013, when it was submitted for publication into the Federal Register.
    The EPA estimates that there are about 14,000 boilers at large sources of air emissions that would be covered by the Major Source Boiler MACT. It is estimated that 12% of these, or 1680 will be required to make equipment modifications to meet numerical emissions standards. It is believed that there are only 11 out of a database of 387 coal fired stoker units that can comply without adding pollution control equipment.
    Cost of Compliance
    The EPA is estimating significant investment costs for affected boilers. EPA estimates that for the final major source rule, the capital costs for compliance for the existing 621 coal boilers will be $2.6 billion, at an average cost of $4.1 million per boiler. Annualized costs, including testing and monitoring, for the affected existing coal boilers are estimated at $904 million. The capital costs for compliance for the existing 508 biomass boilers will be $639 million, at an average cost of $1.26 million per boiler. Annualized costs, including testing and monitoring, for the affected existing biomass boilers are estimated at $169 million. The total capital and annual costs include costs for control devices, work practices, testing and monitoring.
    Planning for Compliance
    With only 3 years before the mandatory compliance date of January 31, 2016, the nearer the deadline, the more the capital cost will rise, particularly in the final 18 months due to the limited availability of resources. Given the potential impact of these regulations, affected facilities should be preparing for compliance by:
    • Assessing applicability to boilers, process heaters, and other combustion equipment.
    • Preparing initial notifications for subject boilers and process heaters.
    • Identifying engineering stack testing necessary to evaluate compliance status for applicable emissions limits.
    • Evaluating existing operating and maintenance procedures to determine impacts of new work practice requirements.
    • Determining if additional pollution control equipment or alternative combustion technology will be necessary to comply.
    • Confirming that the fuels used are considered fuels and not wastes under the NHSM Rule and assessing the need for filing non-waste determinations with U.S. EPA.
    • Establishing a plan and schedule to achieve compliance.
    The final rules are available here: http://www.epa.gov/airquality/combustion/actions.html
    If you have any questions regarding the impact of this legislation to your facility or if you need assistance analyzing your compliance risk, visit our website at http://www.Airtek-troy.com or contact Troy Baines at troyb@airtek-troy.com (334) 672-3439

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