Mining Association Asks for Court Review of EPA Rule

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The National Mining Association recently petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia for review of the Environmental Protection Agency's final Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology Rule and a senator has introduced a resolution of disapproval for the rule. Here are the details.

* According to NMA President Hal Quinn, the association is asking for the review because it believes the EPA has underestimated the impact the rule will have on the nation's energy grid. Within weeks of the final rule's release, the number of announced retirements of coal-fired electricity plants exceeds the EPA's own estimates, Quinn said.

* The National Center for Public Policy Research announced Tuesday that Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has introduced a joint resolution of disapproval for the implementation of the rule under the Congressional Review Act. According to Tom Borelli, director of the National Center's Free Enterprise Project, lower-income Americans will be the hardest hit by the predicted increase to energy prices that will come from the rule. The EPA estimates implementation of the Utility MACT will cost $10 billion a year -- a cost that will be passed down to consumers, the National Center reported.

* As explained by the Bipartisan Policy Center, the EPA was required to release the final Utility MACT rule by mid-November due to a Consent Decree with the U.S. Court of Appeals that required the agency's fulfillment of the 1990 Clean Air Act. The decree ordered the EPA to determine whether the regulation would be necessary, and the EPA did this in 2000. The 2011 deadline was established by the court.

* The Utility MACT rule requires emission limits for mercury, acid gases and particles, the Bipartisan Policy Center explained. The Maximum Achievable Control Technology is based upon the top 12 percent performance of existing units. In order to comply with the rule, power plants will have to install pollution control units. The EPA predicted 1 percent of the nation's electricity supply will retire due to an inability to comply with the pollution controls. EPA estimates are a 3.7 percent increase in retail electricity prices due to the rule.

* According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, the EPA estimates $59 billion to $160 billion a year in health benefits by implementing the rule, through the reduction of toxins such as mercury, acid gases and particles which can cause neurological damage, cancer, lung damage, heart and respiratory disease and premature death.

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