Friday, October 23, 2009

The Die is Cast - 2 Years to Cleaner Air

Anyone who has planned a wedding or a large conference knows how fast time can fly. While two years may sound like a long time away, it is, in "big plan" terms, coming at us very fast. Big plans take time to make and get right. Hopefully the EPA has not been wasting the last 19 years because they have just agreed to complete in two what should, under normal circumstances, take longer.

If a Federal Judge accepts the terms of a consent decree announced today the EPA will have two years to have new rules in place regulating air toxics, including mercury and soot, from coal and oil fired EGUs. November 16, 2011 is the deadline for these new rules.

It is fair to say that this EPA, the one in place at this time, is not the one(s) that have frittered away the last 19 years since the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 stipulated air toxic regulations for large sources. It is also fair to mention that this EPA has already begun the processes involved in getting this accomplished. They have circulated an IRC or information request to several utilities seeking information and have sought comments to proposed rules to guide them in their rule making. In fact the comment period for the initial proposed rules was closed 53 days ago and we can only assume they have reams of comments to go through before any news will come forward.

The task at hand is further complicated by the fact that sound proven measurement methods have not been developed yet to insure compliance with many of the regs with which they may come out. But those test methods, and alternative means of compliance, are also being hotly pursued and debated. So while nothing concrete has happened in 19 years regarding air toxics emissions, several parallel paths have been forged in expectation that someday the laws of the land would be followed.

These parallel paths and the steps being taken by EPA in pursuit of this goal will be the focus of this sight going forward. CAMR is dead, long live the new CAMR.