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U.S. Supreme Court decision doesn’t alter AEP’s compliance plan

by on July 2, 2015

(Story by Rachel Hammer)

AEP is pleased that Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision recognizes that costs are an important factor in determining whether to regulate hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions from power plants. However, Monday’s decision does not relieve power plant owners from continuing activities necessary to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Mercury & Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule.

The United States Supreme Court building.

In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court said EPA must take into account industry costs when deciding whether to regulate the power sector under Sect. 112 of the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court remanded the matter to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to determine how to proceed. Meanwhile, MATS remains in effect.

Yesterday’s decision underscores that the Supreme Court expects the EPA to implement the Clean Air Act as written, not according to its own policy preferences.

EPA adopted MATS in 2012 and it became effective in April. The rules address emissions of HAPs including mercury and other metals, acid gases, organics and dioxin/furans. The Clean Air Act requires compliance with such rules within three years, unless an extension is issued by the state environmental regulators.

The company obtained compliance extensions for a number of units in order to complete transmission upgrades, equipment retrofits and re-fueling projects. Several of those extensions expired May 31. AEP will continue to operate its generating units to maintain compliance while the program is in effect.

A previous proposal to address these emissions was known as the Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR), which was vacated and sent back to EPA in 2008 by the D.C. Circuit Court. The 2012 rule has also been called the HAPs rule or Utility MACT (maximum available control technology) rule. Mercury, the primary HAP of concern, can be well-controlled using the same equipment that reduces sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from our coal-fired units. Operation of these controls is also required to meet our obligations under the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and Regional Haze requirements at certain plants.


From → News From AEP

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