- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's has granted compliance extensions to seven coal units owned by five generators, Platts reports, giving them an additional year to comply with the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule, Platts reports.
About 200 plants were granted one-year extensions to the April 2015 rule, but most facilities have since made changes or gone offline.
The Supreme Court rejected the MATS rule last year, finding the agency should have done a cost-benefit calculation before beginning to write the regulation. EPA recently completed the analysis and upheld its rule.
But more litigation is expected surrounding the MATS rule, with Murray Energy, the largest coal company in the country, last week announcing its intentions to file another lawsuit challenging the emissions restrictions..
Platts reports the EPA has approved seven additional one-year extensions for coal generators struggling with MATS rules. Those include: Two units owned by Tennessee Valley Authority in Kentucky; two units owned by Virginia Electric Power; one owned by River Dam Authority in Oklahoma; and units owned by the cities of Kansas City and Ames, Iowa, in their respective locations.
The extensions follow EPA's decision that the cost of the rule justifies its implementation. That was work the agency should have done before issuing the rule, the Supreme Court determined last year.
The Supreme Court determined the agency should have done a cost-benefit analysis before constructing the mercury restrictions, but as the agency addressed that issue, the D.C. Circuit determined regulators could continue enforcing the rules while the fix was being completed.
EPA said last week it determined the MATS rule was "appropriate and necessary to regulate air toxics ... after including a consideration of costs."
"Power plants are the nation’s largest industrial source mercury pollution and they emit more than half of a range of air toxics, as well as sulfur dioxide and particulates," the agency said in a fact sheet on the decision. "After evaluating several cost metrics relevant to the power sector and considering public comments, EPA finds that the cost of compliance with MATS is reasonable and that the electric power industry can comply with MATS and maintain its ability to provide reliable electric power to consumers at a reasonable cost."
But litigation over the rule and its impacts is likely to continue. The Supreme Court is now considering a petition from 20 states calling for rejection of the Circuit court's decision to let the rule remain while EPA addressed costs.
"We will sue the Obama EPA once again, when the rule is published in the Federal Register, and we will prevail," a Murray Energy spokesman said.