From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published March 22, 2011 11:29 AM

EPA and Boilers

On March 16, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed long-anticipated limits on power plant emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants (“HAPs”) under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”). Along with recent emissions standards for industrial and commercial boilers and a new proposal for power plant GHG controls due out in July, EPA is undertaking a series of major CAA rule makings. EPA’s latest rule would establish the first nationwide standards for power plant emissions of mercury, arsenic and other HAPs, with numeric limits based upon maximum available control technology as required under the 1990 CAA Amendments. EPA’s new proposal would reduce mercury from approximately 525 coal and oil-fired power plants by 91 percent once fully implemented, and it covers a range of other pollutants that were not regulated under the Bush-era mercury rule.


The intent of the proposed rule is to require companies to make a decision - control HAP emissions from older less efficient and uncontrolled sources or retire these sometimes 60 year old units and shift their emphasis to more efficient, cleaner modern methods of generation, including modern coal-fired generation. The theory behind this is that the health related benefits from less exposure to the toxic air emissions will out weigh the cost of implementation. The entities affected are many major electric utilities, industrial sites and even large apartment building and hospital owners.

This is part of a continuing effort both on the federal as well as state and local levels to control emissions. Operators of such boilers already maintain and tune up their boilers on an annual basis. New EPA regulations will make such tune ups mandatory and subject them to additional reporting conditions.

Last month, under the pressure of a court deadline, EPA also finalized new emissions regulations for more than 200,000 industrial, commercial, and institutional boilers, covering sources ranging from power plants and refineries to apartment buildings and hospitals. The covered emissions include the more ordinary types such as particulates and carbon monoxide.

A recent settlement with New York and other states, cities and non-profit organizations, EPA committed to proposing New Source Performance Standards for power plant greenhouse gas emissions (such as Carbon dioxide) by July 26, 2011.

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