Originally published as a Schiff Hardin Environmental Update newsletter

On May 3, 2011, USEPA proposed national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants (“NESHAP”) from both new and existing coal- and oil-fired electric utility steam generating units (“EGUs”). 76 Fed. Reg. 27976 (May 3, 2011), available here.

The proposed regulations reflect USEPA’s determination that it is “appropriate and necessary” to regulate the emissions of hazardous air pollutants from EGUs; therefore, the regulations set numerical limits for emissions of heavy metals (such as mercury, arsenic and nickel) and acid gases (such as hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride). According to USEPA, the proposed emission standards reflect “the maximum degree of reduction in emissions of air pollutants” that can be met while “taking into consideration the cost of achieving such emission reductions.” Both new and existing EGUs must meet the proposed emission standards within three years of the date when the regulations become effective (although there is a possibility of a one year extension for compliance).

The proposed regulations also revise the new source performance standards (“NSPS”) for particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) for fossil fuel-fired EGUs so that the standards reflect the best demonstrated technology (“BDT”). The proposed NSPS amendments affect only “those facilities that begin construction, modification, or reconstruction after May 3, 2011.” 76 F.R. 25061.

For more information on this issue, see Schiff Hardin’s previous alert titled “USEPA Proposes New Mercury and Other Hazardous Air Pollutant National Emission Standards and Revised New Source Performance Standards for Power Plants” and published on March 23, 2011.

USEPA is now accepting comments on the proposed regulations. These comments must be received by July 5, 2011. In addition, USEPA will hold three public hearings (Chicago, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Atlanta, Georgia) on the proposed regulations. If you have any questions about how or whether the proposed regulations will affect your business, please contact an environmental lawyer at Schiff Hardin.