Timeline of delay
The long road to controlling mercury emissions from power plants
August 3, 2016
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit granted the requests of 17 states, 5 cities and counties, power companies, health and environmental groups – including EDF – to help defend the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards supplemental finding. Briefing in the D.C. Circuit Court case is now underway.
May 6, 2016
EDF and a coalition of states, cities, medical and environmental groups file a brief asking the Supreme Court to reject opponents March 14 attack on the Mercury Standards.
April 25, 2016
EPA’s Supplemental Finding is published. Within hours, opponents sue in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to block them.
April 15, 2016
EPA finalizes its supplemental finding, fulfilling the directives of the Supreme Court and confirming the enormous health benefits of the Mercury and Aor Toxics Standards.
March 14, 2016
Opponents once again ask the Supreme Court to overturn the Mercury Standards on the grounds that the D.C. Circuit’s practice of leaving safeguards in place on remand while an agency fixes a flaw is illegal – a suggestion that is legally unfounded.
March 3, 2016
The Supreme Court denies request for an emergency stay of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
January 15, 2016
EDF and other health and environmental groups file comments with EPA about its supplemental finding reaffirming the benefits of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
December 15, 2015
The D.C. Circuit Court issues a unanimous order refusing opponents’ requests to vacate, and leaving the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards in place.
December 4, 2015
The D.C. Circuit Court hears arguments about the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Opponents ask the court to vacate the standards; EDF and others argue they should be left in place.
November 20, 2015
EPA issues a supplemental finding that reaffirms the enormous health benefits of reducing mercury and other toxic air pollution, and holds a public comment period.
June 29, 2015
The Supreme Court rules that EPA must undertake additional cost-benefit analyses for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. The decision sends the standards back to the D.C. Circuit Court again for further arguments.
March 25, 2015
November 25, 2014
Supreme Court announces that it will review the Court of Appeals decision upholding the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
April 15, 2014
October 23, 2012
June 20, 2012
53 Senators, in a bipartisan vote, defeat Senator James Inhofe’s resolution to undo the Mercury and Air Toxics rule.
March 16, 2012
Industry files a challenge in the D.C. Circuit to the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule.
EPA finalizes the Mercury and Air Toxics rule (MATS) to regulate mercury emissions from power plants under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act through plant specific MACT standards. This rule replaces the court-vacated CAMR.
A federal district court judge approves a Consent Decree requiring EPA to propose a new rule under the Section 112 protections for air toxics no later than March 16, 2011 and to finalize a rule no later than November 16, 2011.
On February 23, 2009, the Supreme Court denies the Utility Air Regulatory Group’s request to review the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision. See UARG vs. New Jersey et. al., No. 08-352.
A unanimous 3-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacates EPA’s rule removing power plants from the Clean Air Act list of hazardous air pollution as well as the Clean Air Mercury Rule.
By February, 18 states have established more protective emissions limits, which will take effect sooner than will EPA’s, and four other states are developing regulations that would do so.
The State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators (STAPPA) and the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials (ALAPCO) release “Regulating Mercury from Power Plants: A Model Rule for States and Localities,” in response to their concern that the CAMR rule would not result in adequate reductions in emissions of mercury from coal-fired power plants to protect public health. The document describes two options for state and local governments to develop utility mercury rules more protective of public health and the environment than EPA’s regulation.
Against recommendations from health experts and its own findings in the 1998 report to Congress, EPA “delists” power plants as a source of hazardous air emissions. Instead EPA finalizes CAMR, which provides a categorical exclusion from the obligation for the maximum mercury reductions at each power plant and defers reductions to address mercury pollution for over a decade.
After another four years, EPA proposes to change its conclusion that it is “appropriate and necessary” to regulate power plant hazardous air emissions under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act. EPA also proposes to remove power plants from the official list of hazardous air pollution sources. Instead of MACT standards requiring health-protective emission reductions at each plant, EPA proposes the less protective Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR), that defers emission reductions to address mercury pollution for over a decade.
After a two year delay and further study of mercury pollution from power plants, EPA determines that it is “appropriate and necessary” to regulate hazardous air emissions from electric utilities under section 112 of the Clean Air Act and officially lists power plants as a source of hazardous pollution. With this conclusion, EPA is required to issue power plant-specific Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards by 2004.
This finding was immediately challenged by the utility industry. See Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, No. 01-1074 (D.C. Cir. filed Feb. 16, 2000). The 3-judge panel dismissed the challenge for lack of jurisdiction.
EPA sent the “Study of Hazardous Air Pollutant Emissions from Electric Utility Steam Generating Units” to Congress.
EPA completed the “Mercury Study Report to Congress”, a massive review of the state of the science on mercury.
The 1990 Clean Air Act requires EPA to prepare for Congress a study of the amount of and health and environmental effects of hazardous pollution from electric utilities the technologies available to control emissions, and the costs of such technologies. As part of that study, Congress asked EPA to determine whether it was “appropriate and necessary” to regulate hazardous pollution from electric power plants.