Boilers, Emissions

EPA memo asks MACT review of power projects

9 January 2009 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation said in a January 7 memo that power plants under construction may now need to meet new-source maximum available control technology (MACT) standards.

The EPA memo, from Robert J. Meyers, principal deputy assistant administrator, states that although electric steam generators may have relied on rules that EPA issued and that were vacated by a federal court in February 2008, EPA now believes those generators are “legally obligated to come into compliance” with the requirements of Section 112(g). Section 112(g) refers to a portion of the Clean Air Act Amendments.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated EPA’s Section 112(n) Revision Rule and its Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) last February. The affected rule removed coal- and oil-fired electric steam generating units from mandatory compliance with MACT.

Units affected by the January 7 EPA memo include coal- and oil-fired facilities that began “actual construction or reconstruction” between March 29, 2005 and March 14, 2008.

EPA said it reviewed permit information for potentially affected facilities and believes that controls in place “may be sufficient” to comply with MACT standards. The agency said, however, it is asking state and local air permitting authorities to make new-source MACT determinations for each affected project.

EPA advised permitting authorities not to consider any MACT options closed simply because permits have been issued, administrative processes have begun or contracts have been let. Instead, “permitting authorities should limit such consideration to actual construction only.”

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