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Category — Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT)

POWER’s Peltier: MACT’s Missing Intellectual Justification

“EPA’s politically appointed leadership believes that the perversion of science is a ‘minor evil’ committed to achieve the ‘greater good’ of ridding the nation of coal-fired power generation. Science may be the first casualty in the EPA’s war on coal, but all of us are its victims.”

- Robert Peltier, “MACT Attack,” POWER, July 2012, p. 6.

Robert Peltier is no ordinary participant in today’s important energy debates. He is editor-in-chief of POWER magazine, which covers all technologies relating to electricity. He is a professional engineer with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. Peltier in a previous life was a tenured professor. He has worked in manufacturing and for a public utility. And before that, he was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy.

It is his job to study the technological possibilities with an eye to competitive viability in electric generation. When examining regulation—past, present, or proposed—he considers the peer-reviewed literature as well as personal opinions to get to the essence of things.

Utility Mercury and Air Toxics Standards

Enter the  recent Utility Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (Utility MACT) rule issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the subject of Peltier’s ‘Speaking of Power’ editorial in the July 2012 issue of POWER. It is worth reading in whole. [Read more →]

July 23, 2012   6 Comments

Hassling Electricity: EPA’s Proposed MACT Rules

Presidential candidate Barack Obama promised that his policies would cause electricity rates to “skyrocket” and “bankrupt” any company trying to build a coal-fired generating plant. This is one promise he and his über-regulators are keeping.

President Obama energetically promotes wind and solar projects that require millions of acres of land and billions of dollars in subsidies to generate expensive, intermittent electricity and create (really centrally plan) jobs that cost taxpayers upwards of $220,000 apiece – most of them in China.

His Interior Department is locking up more coal and petroleum prospects, via “wild lands” and other designations, and dragging its feet on issuing leases and drilling permits.

Meanwhile, his Environmental Protection Agency is challenging shale gas drilling and fracking, and imposing draconian carbon dioxide (CO2) emission rules, now that Congress and voters have rejected cap-tax-and-trade.

Across agencies, the war is on against the dense, reliable energies that were part of the Industrial Revolution (see the posts on W. S. Jevons for more) and are behind modern society today.

The beat-down of carbon-based energy goes on. Oil, gas and coal provide approximantely 84% of the energy that keeps America humming, but the administration is doing all it can to reduce each and all. American voters, consumers and workers may want more drilling, mining and use of hydrocarbons, to get the economy going again. But the administration has a different agenda.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has unveiled another 946 pages of regulations that she claims will protect public health. The regs cover 84 “dangerous pollutants” that are already being scrubbed out of power plant emission streams by a host of innovative technologies. In fact, coal-fired generators now emit a fraction of what they did just 40 years ago.

The most frequently cited of these pollutants is mercury. Higher doses cause well-known ill-health effects, from severe neurological damage to brain damage and death. However, it has been all but eliminated in herbicides, light switches, thermometers and other products.

Its presence in coal and power plant emissions is likewise minimal and declining. [Read more →]

March 30, 2011   1 Comment

EPA’s Utility MACT Proposal: Negative Economics for What?

[Editor note: This new white paper by the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council (ERCC) is summarized by director Scott Segal (full bio below). ERCC is a coalition of power companies that works with labor unions, consumers, and manufacturing and service businesses on clean air issues.]

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has now signed a proposal to advance a new maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standard for the electric utility industry, known as the Utility MACT.

Back in 1998, the EPA made a finding regarding the need to regulate mercury emissions from power plants. At the time, EPA made clear that there were no incremental benefits associated with addressing any other hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from the power sector other than mercury. Specifically, no health benefits were found from addressing non-mercury HAPs such as acid gases.

Such controls are extraordinarily costly with profound impacts on electricity supply and price, and job creation. In the intervening years, no additional data has been added to the Agency record that asserts any specific benefits to regulating for non-mercury HAPs. And yet, in the proposal issuing from EPA, the Agency seeks to regulate these non-mercury HAPs at great expense for no incremental benefit.

A Wave of Regulations

EPA admits the pending proposal will cost at least $10 billion, making it one of the most expensive rules in the history of the Agency. And this cost does not include indirect costs nor does the Agency attempt to estimate the total cost associated with overlapping rules due to be adopted at or around the same time. Even focusing primarily on Utility MACT itself, other credible analyses have found direct cost estimates literally an order of magnitude higher than EPA, at or near $100 billion. These other analyses make more realistic assumptions about technologies likely to be required to meet the terms of proposed rule. [Read more →]

March 17, 2011   11 Comments