Petitions on Mercury Rule Startup Provisions Rejected by EPA

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By Patrick Ambrosio

Aug. 5 — The Environmental Protection Agency won't alter toxic emissions control requirements for power plants during periods of startup under its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards in response to requests from environmental and industry organizations.

The agency, in a notice scheduled for publication in the Federal Register Aug. 8, announced that it rejected petitions for reconsideration filed by the Utility Air Regulatory Group, a utility sector organization, and a coalition of environmental advocacy groups led by the Environmental Integrity Project.

The groups' unsuccessful petitions sought changes to a 2014 rule (RIN:2060-AS07) that established an alternative work practice standard for power plant startup under the MATS regulation. The alternative standard allows coal- and oil-fired power plants to comply with the mercury and air toxics standards by initiating startup using clean fuels and continuing to use the maximum amount of clean fuels during startup, when emissions are generally higher than during normal operation.

The EPA's rationale for denying the petitions was that the issues raised by both the environmental and industry petitioners could have been raised during the rulemaking process, but were not.

The denial of the reconsideration requests could allow for challenges to the alternative work practice standard rulemaking to proceed in federal appeals court. The litigation, filed by both the environmental organizations and the Utility Air Regulatory Group, has been held in abeyance since August 2015 ( Util. Air Regulatory Grp. v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 15-1013, 8/18/15 ).

The court initially halted the lawsuit to allow for litigation over the main MATS rule to conclude, which it did in June when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a lower court's decision to leave the regulation in place while the agency worked to address a legal flaw in the rulemaking process ( Michigan v. EPA, U.S., No. 15-1152, cert. denied 6/13/16 ).

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Ambrosio in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at

For More Information

The EPA's response to the petitions is available at .

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