ERCC Statement on decision of EPA to grant a petition for reconsideration of part of the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule (MATS), by Scott Segal

July 20, 2012

Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, offered the following statement on the decision of EPA to grant a petition for reconsideration of part of the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule (MATS).  ERCC is a group of energy companies working on common sense clean air and other regulatory issues, including sensible approaches to the regulation of coal-fired energy:

“Today, EPA has finally admitted what we have known for a very long time:  there are significant technical flaws in the way the MATS standards were set.  The MATS rule is one of the most expensive rules in Clean Air Act history and is widely anticipated to cost some $300 billion and 2-2.5 million full time jobs.  See ERCC testimony at http://www.electricreliability.org/testimony-erccs-scott-segal-may-24-2012-epa-public-hearing-proposed-carbon-pollution-standard-future

The letter EPA sent to the new source petitioners references ‘measurement issues,’ meaning that the new source MATS level for mercury was likely set so low that monitoring equipment couldn’t even measure it.  It also references ‘data set’ issues, meaning that the EPA likely cherry-picked facilities for establishing a baseline in such a way as to make the rule unachievable in practice.  While the EPA is only acting for new sources today, it is fair commentary to observe that these and similar issues may well be in play for rule as it applies to the existing fleet of power plants.  See the EPA letter to petitioners at http://epa.gov/mats/pdfs/20120720letter.pdf

Why did EPA grant this petition?  There can be little disagreement that EPA’s new source MATS had been subject to intensive scrutiny by energy companies, cooperatives, and developers seeking to build much-needed new power plants to meet existing demand and hopefully to fuel our nation’s economic recovery. 

All in all, today’s decision by EPA is an important admission of flaws within the MATS rule and is a step in the right direction.”