Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR)
Finalized in July 2011, the EPA's CSAPR requires 27 states to significantly improve air quality by reducing power plant emissions that cross state lines and contribute to ozone and fine particle pollution in other states. The EPA also finalized supplemental rules on Dec. 15, 2011, requiring five states — Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin — to make summertime nitrogen oxide (NOx) reductions under the CSAPR ozone season control program. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia granted a last-minute request (Dec. 30, 2011) by electric power producers to delay this requirement; as a result, CSAPR is on hold through the spring while the court weighs legal challenges.
To meet CSAPR requirements, electric generating facilities must either install controls, buy allowances, reduce operation, fuel switch or retire units.
National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP)
Proposed by the EPA in May 2011, NESHAP rules address emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from coal- and oil-fired electric utility steam generating units under Clean Air Act section 112(d). EPA identified source categories that must meet technology requirements to control HAP emissions and are required to develop standards for all industries that emit one or more of the HAPs in significant quantities.
The EPA also recently issued its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) for power plants in December 2011 — designed to limit mercury, acid gases and other toxic pollution from power plants and reflecting application of maximum achievable control technology.
Coal Combustion Residuals
For the first time, the EPA is proposing to regulate coal combustion residuals (coal ash) produced by electric generating utilities — wastes still considered exempt under an amendment to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). After a series of comment periods in 2010 and public submittals during 2011, the EPA is expected to release its final rule in 2012.
The EPA's co-proposed rules would require either: 1) listing these residuals as special wastes subject to regulation under Subtitle C of RCRA; or 2) regulating coal ash under Subtitle D of RCRA, the section for non-hazardous wastes, with additional national minimum standards for disposal. The first option would effectively phase out wet handling of coal combustion residuals, while the second option would allow for continued wet handling only after retrofitting surface impoundments with composite liner systems and implementing additional monitoring criteria.
Clean Water Act, Section 316(b): Cooling Water Intake Structures
The EPA is developing regulations under Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act, requiring existing facilities that withdraw at least 2 million gallons per day of cooling water — including steam electric power plants — to use the best technology available in terms of the location, design, construction and capacity to minimize the adverse environmental impacts of cooling water intake structures. According to the agency, these impacts include the impingement of fish and shellfish on cooling water intake screens and the entrainment
of their larvae and eggs into facilities'
All facilities would be subject to impingement and entrainment standards. For impingement, the standards are a maximum annual mortality of 12 percent with a monthly maximum of 31 percent. Alternatively, facilities can achieve a through-screen velocity of less than 0.5 feet per second. In addition, all intake screens that are moved and sprayed with water for cleaning must be equipped with devices designed to minimize the exposure of fish to high intake velocities, the atmosphere, and high-pressure sprays, and gently return impinged fish to the source water. Facilities with ocean or tidal source waters must also reduce shellfish impingement to a level commensurate with a barrier net. For entrainment, facilities can reduce the intake flow to a level commensurate with a closed-cycle, recirculating cooling system or conduct studies to help permitting authorities determine site-specific entrainment mortality controls based on the cost of compliance and the benefit to natural resources. The EPA is expected to implement a final rule by July 27, 2012.