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EPA Retains First-Ever Reductions of Mercury from Power Plants

Release Date: 05/31/2006
Contact Information: John Millett, (202) 564-4355 / millett.john@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C. - May 31, 2006) The Clean Air Mercury Rule, established under the Bush Administration, is the first-ever rule to regulate mercury emissions from power plants. Finalized in March 2005 and reaffirmed today, it will achieve an approximately 70 percent reduction in mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants when fully implemented.

The Clean Air Mercury Rule creates a market-based cap-and-trade program that will permanently cap utility mercury emissions. The first phase of the rule sets a cap of 38 tons and in combination with the Clean Air Interstate Rule will reduce emissions from 48 tons to 31 tons beginning in 2010. Emissions will continue to decline thereafter until they are reduced to the second phase cap of 15 tons when the program is fully implemented. The mandatory declining caps, coupled with significant penalties for noncompliance, will ensure that mercury reduction requirements are achieved and sustained in a cost-effective manner.

In response to petitions for reconsideration, EPA reaffirmed its approach for regulating mercury emissions from power plants and made technical changes and clarifications to the Clean Air Mercury Rule.

Today's action responds to petitioners' requests for changes to certain aspects of two mercury-related actions: (1) EPA's decision that it is neither necessary nor appropriate to regulate power plant mercury emissions under section 112 of the Clean Air Act (called the 112 Revision Rule) and (2) the cap-and-trade Clean Air Mercury Rule.

After carefully considering the petitions and the information that was submitted during the public comment period, EPA has determined that its original determination as presented in the final Section 112 Revision Rule was correct and is reaffirming the March 29, 2005 action.

With regard to Clean Air Mercury Rule, EPA is making two technical changes to the rule and finalizing language reaffirming that municipal waste combustors are not covered under this rule, but under a separate rule for air toxics.

The Bush Administration has put in place a series of clean air regulations that will help most of the country attain new, stringent air quality standards. This rule, combined with other clean air regulations such as the Clean Air Interstate Rule and the Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule will lead to significant benefits for our environment, improve public health and promote development of new technologies.

More information on the Clean Air Mercury Rule and the petitions for reconsideration: http://www.epa.gov/air/mercuryrule/rule.htm