Michael J. Bradley, executive director of the Clean Energy Group and founder of M.J. Bradley & Associates, joined E&E TV's OnPoint to discuss EPA's proposed Toxics Rule (aka Utility MACT) to explain why the rules are within EPA's regulatory mandate as well as how the rule will integrate with EPA's additional upcoming air quality regulations.
Michael began by discussing EPA's long-overdue regulatory obligations, noting that the industry is well on its way to being prepared to comply, including the fact that 60 percent of U.S. coal capacity has already put on scrubbers. Scrubbers remove sulfur dioxide (SO2), acid gases, and other pollutants and are the most capital-intensive control technology used in the electric sector.
Additionally, he referred to the extensive data collection effort in support of the Toxics Rule, stating that "EPA has been very careful to stay within the bounds of what's required in the Clean Air Act in its approach to this. And, on top of that, they did very extensive data collections to base the rule soundly on emissions data, like the Act requires."
Finally, Michael addressed concerns that power plants will be shutting down as a result of these regulations. He agrees that the most inefficient, uncontrolled plants are likely to retire rather than control emissions of mercury, acid gases, and other toxic metals. "There's already been about 10 gigawatts, which is less than one percent of the capacity the U.S., already announced to retire and we're talking about old coal facilities, generally 40, 50, or more years old, that are small, inefficient and have passed their useful life." Retired capacity can be replaced by building new gas-fired power plants or deploying demand-side management strategies. Michael summarized, "There's a whole host of tools that are there to adequately replace any of the shutdowns."
Michael notes that it is a small subset of industry claiming they can't keep pace with these regulations. Many states have already adopted mercury limitations, "so it isn't like we're starting from scratch."