Long-Delayed Power Plant Toxics Regulations Due by Dec. 16

December 7, 2011

EPA is scheduled to release by Dec. 16, 2011, its final rule regulating the release of about 80 airborne toxics from coal- and oil-fired power plants. The toxics include mercury, lead, and many other metals, volatile organic compounds, ammonia, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen fluoride, dioxins, and polycyclic aromatic compounds.

The proposed rule, released March 16, 2011, drew hundreds of thousands of comments, which the agency says contributed to its delaying (with the approval of the organizations suing it) the initial consent-decreed final rule date of Nov. 16, 2011. The agency says it will release the final rule by Dec. 16, though the agency's and the Obama administration's recent track records suggest additional delays are possible if the litigants agree or if the agency or the Obama administration uses other legal or administrative maneuvers.

The agency says the proposed rule would prevent about 17,000 premature deaths each year and hundreds of thousands of illnesses, and avoid substantial environmental damage. EPA estimates that for every $1 spent preventing the targeted pollution there would be health benefits ranging from $5 to $13, and additional environmental benefits.

For much more information, including background on this long-delayed regulation, the names of the organizations suing EPA, and the power plant locations and their owners, see the TipSheet of March 2, 2011.

For numerous media perspectives on some of the politics surrounding this rule, see the Dec. 2, 2011, EJToday.