- More than 12,000 MW of coal-fired generation will be taken offline this year, SNL reports in a Data Dispatch, the result of new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rules that went into effect in April.
- About 4% of the total coal generating capacity in this country will close in 2015, but will slow next year as compliance extensions end.
- The ultimate fate of the MATS rule remains up in the air; the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments last month from critics of the law who say the Obama administration needed to take into account compliance costs when issuing the mandates.
The Supreme Court is not expected to rule on the MATS challenge until next month, but SNL reports the law's mandates are already having an enormous impact on the United States' coal generating fleet. Some 4,600 MW has already shuttered this year and another 7,700 MW will be taken offline by the end of the end of December.
SNL has done extensive analysis of the rule's impact, and determined that if MATS goes forward as planned, then coal retirements will eventually reach 46,000 MW between 2012 and 2022.
Critics of the rule say the federal government was required to consider the cost of compliance when setting new mandates. The regulations could force utilities to shutter more than a thousand generators at hundreds of the nation's largest power plants. But the EPA believes the regulations could prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths each year by limiting mercury, particulate matter, and other pollutants.
At oral arguments last month Justice Elena Kagan appeared to defend the agency's rule, however, saying Congress "knows how to require consideration of costs," and "to get from silence to this notion of a requirement seems to be a pretty big jump."