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Presidential Document

Flexible Implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule

 
Memorandum of December 21, 2011

Flexible Implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule Back to Top

Memorandum for the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Back to Top

Today's issuance, by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), of the final Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule for power plants (the “MATS Rule”) represents a major step forward in my Administration's efforts to protect public health and the environment.

This rule, issued after careful consideration of public comments, prescribes standards under section 112 of the Clean Air Act to control emissions of mercury and other toxic air pollutants from power plants, which collectively are among the largest sources of such pollution in the United States. The EPA estimates that by substantially reducing emissions of pollutants that contribute to neurological damage, cancer, respiratory illnesses, and other health risks, the MATS Rule will produce major health benefits for millions of Americans—including children, older Americans, and other vulnerable populations. Consistent with Executive Order 13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review), the estimated benefits of the MATS Rule far exceed the estimated costs.

The MATS Rule can be implemented through the use of demonstrated, existing pollution control technologies. The United States is a global market leader in the design and manufacture of these technologies, and it is anticipated that U.S. firms and workers will provide much of the equipment and labor needed to meet the substantial investments in pollution control that the standards are expected to spur.

These new standards will promote the transition to a cleaner and more efficient U.S. electric power system. This system as a whole is critical infrastructure that plays a key role in the functioning of all facets of the U.S. economy, and maintaining its stability and reliability is of critical importance. It is therefore crucial that implementation of the MATS Rule proceed in a cost-effective manner that ensures electric reliability.

Analyses conducted by the EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE) indicate that the MATS Rule is not anticipated to compromise electric generating resource adequacy in any region of the country. The Clean Air Act offers a number of implementation flexibilities, and the EPA has a long and successful history of using those flexibilities to ensure a smooth transition to cleaner technologies.

The Clean Air Act provides 3 years from the effective date of the MATS Rule for sources to comply with its requirements. In addition, section 112(i)(3)(B) of the Act allows the issuance of a permit granting a source up to one additional year where necessary for the installation of controls. As you stated in the preamble to the MATS Rule, this additional fourth year should be broadly available to sources, consistent with the requirements of the law.

The EPA has concluded that 4 years should generally be sufficient to install the necessary emission control equipment, and DOE has issued analysis consistent with that conclusion. While more time is generally not expected to be needed, the Clean Air Act offers other important flexibilities as well. For example, section 113(a) of the Act provides the EPA with flexibility to bring sources into compliance over the course of an additional year, should unusual circumstances arise that warrant such flexibility.

To address any concerns with respect to electric reliability while assuring MATS' public health benefits, I direct you to take the following actions:

1. Building on the information and guidance that you have provided to the public, relevant stakeholders, and permitting authorities in the preamble of the MATS Rule, work with State and local permitting authorities to make the additional year for compliance with the MATS Rule provided under section 112(i)(3)(B) of the Clean Air Act broadly available to sources, consistent with law, and to invoke this flexibility expeditiously where justified.

2. Promote early, coordinated, and orderly planning and execution of the measures needed to implement the MATS Rule while maintaining the reliability of the electric power system. Consistent with Executive Order 13563, this process should be designed to “promote predictability and reduce uncertainty,” and should include engagement and coordination with DOE, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, State utility regulators, Regional Transmission Organizations, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and regional electric reliability organizations, other grid planning authorities, electric utilities, and other stakeholders, as appropriate.

3. Make available to the public, including relevant stakeholders, information concerning any anticipated use of authorities: (a) under section 112(i)(3)(B) of the Clean Air Act in the event that additional time to comply with the MATS Rule is necessary for the installation of technology; and(b) under section 113(a) of the Clean Air Act in the event that additional time to comply with the MATS Rule is necessary to address a specific and documented electric reliability issue. This information should describe the process for working with entities with relevant expertise to identify circumstances where electric reliability concerns might justify allowing additional time to comply.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

THE WHITE HOUSE,

Washington, December 21, 2011

[FR Doc. 2011-33337 Filed 12-23-11; 8:45 am]

Billing code 6560-50-P

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