Supreme Court to Hear EPA MATS Rule

on December 10, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Britain's Prince Charles(6thR) walks in

The Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether EPA unreasonably refused to consider cost factors in its MATS rulemaking process.

On November 25, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court granted petitions to hear state and industry challenges against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) to decide whether EPA unreasonably refused to consider costs in determining that it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by coal- and oil-fired electric generating units (EGUs).  The Supreme Court will review an April 15 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which upheld EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to formulate MATS to regulate EGUs’ emissions.



Pursuant to the 1990 CAA amendments, EPA studied health impacts of EGUs’ emissions and made a determination in 2000 that it is appropriate and necessary to regulate hazardous air pollutants.The EPA reaffirmed its findings in 2012.  In December 2011, EPA announced MATS to address emissions of heavy metals – mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel — and acid gases – hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid.  In February 2012, EPA finalized MATS requirements to limit mercury, filterable particulate matter, and hydrogen chloride emissions.  Subsequently, EPA updated MATS requirements for new EGUs in March 2013 and updated the startup and shutdown provisions applicable for MATS-regulated EGUs in November.

In its April decision, the Appeals Court rejected contentions against EPA’s interpretation in determining that it was appropriate and necessary to regulate EGUs under the CAA, including preclusion of cost consideration.  The decision concluded that EPA reasonably excluded cost factors as it was not expressly required to consider costs.  The EPA estimates that MATS will cost approximately $9.6B per year and result in health benefits of $37B to $90B in 2016.  The MATS rule requires EGUs 25 MW or greater to install emissions control technology and affects approximately 1,400 units, which have up to four years for compliance.

Originally published by EnerKnol.

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