Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) applauded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for finalizing its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule, also known as the Utility MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology), for fossil fuel powered electrical generating units. The rule is supported by Maryland power suppliers Exelon Corp., Constellation Energy and the American Boiler Manufacturers Association and complies with a Consent Decree of the D.C. Court of Appeals that requires EPA to fulfill the 1990 Clean Air Act regarding hazardous air pollution from power plants.
“Clean air is essential for the health of every American and it’s also good business. It’s time for the rest of the country’s electricity generation sector to catch up with Maryland and do what our power producers have been doing for years now to protect children from toxic mercury and air toxics pollution. In 2006, the Maryland Legislature and Governor Robert Ehrlich took decisive action to protect the health of Marylanders by establishing the Healthy Air Act – the East Coast’s strongest clean air law. Maryland’s power generation sector has worked hard to comply with this law, and in the process has created thousands of jobs in Maryland’s power generation sector.
“Constellation invested $885 million to add critical pollution control technologies to its Brandon Shores power plant near Glen Burnie. This investment created more than 1,300 jobs at its peak, reduced mercury emissions from the plant by 90%, and caused no disruption in electricity service to Maryland.
“Mercury is an extremely harmful neurotoxin that our country’s largest source producers, power plants, must act to address. The doomsday scenarios described by our nation’s power companies who irresponsibly continue to operate the nation’s oldest and dirtiest power plants are not based in reality. The rule being finalized today is the result of litigation demanding EPA to comply with the Clean Air Act.”
According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Utility MACT follows the Clean Air Act’s approach for toxic pollutants, the rule requires “command and control” emission rate limits for mercury, acid gases, and particles. The limits must represent Maximum Achievable Control Technology, defined as the top 12% performance of existing units, which EPA set after collecting performance data from industry. In addition, the rule establishes “work practice standards” to reduce organic air toxics, such as dioxin and furans. A number of plants already have pollution controls that will comply with MACT limits. Others, in order to comply with the established emission rates, will need to install pollution controls, including activated carbon injection, scrubbers or dry sorbent injection, and upgrade particulate controls.