The U.S. Environmental Protection proposed new, stronger mercury and air toxics standards (MATS) for coal-fired power plants, the most significant update since MATS were first issued in 2012.

EPA said the new proposal reflects the latest assessment of available control technologies and techniques for reducing hazardous emissions.

The proposal would further reduce the emissions limit for filterable particulate matter (fPM) by 67 percent for existing coal plants. This standard is designed to control emissions of nickel, arsenic and other non-mercury HAP metals. To comply with the revised fPM emission limit, the proposal also requires plants to have appropriate monitoring systems that provide real-time emissions data. EPA also proposed revising requirements to assure better emissions performance during plant startup.

The proposal also includes cost and feasibility information on achieving even lower levels of fPM emissions. The agency is taking comment on whether to finalize an even stronger standard.

EPA is also proposing a 70 percent reduction in the emissions limit for mercury from existing lignite-fired sources. This would ensure these plants achieve the same level of emissions performance as other coal-fired plants.

EPA projects the proposed rule to reduce emissions of mercury and non-mercury metal pollution, such as nickel, arsenic, and lead. These pollutants are known to cause significant health impacts including fatal heart attacks, cancer and developmental delays in children.

The proposal would also result in emissions reductions of fine particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide, the agency said.

Industry-reported emissions data, required by MATS, show that 2021 mercury emissions from coal-fired electric generating units are 90 percent lower than pre-MATS (pre-2012) levels.

EPA will accept public comment on the rule for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register and will hold a public hearing.

More details here.

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