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Utility MACT rule Unnecessary

Using the Congressional Review Act (CRA), the U.S. Senate has an up-coming vote in June to overturn the EPA’s unnecessary and damaging Utility MACT Rule. 

According to its own analysis, the EPA shows that over 99 percent of all benefits from the proposed Utility MACT rule are a product of reducing fine particular matter (PM2.5 ). The EPA has titled Utility MACT the “Mercury and Air Toxics” rule despite the fact that the health benefits will come from the reduction of PM not mercury or hazardous air pollutants (HAPs).  EPA estimated only $500,000 to $6 million in benefits related to the new restrictions on mercury, compared to over $10 billion in costs to implement this new mandate! This cost-benefit ratio amounts to approximately 1,600 to one! EPA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) for the final rule freely admits that “total benefits [for the rule] are composed primarily of monetized PM-related health benefits. The Utility MACT rule will benefit from the reduction of particulate matter, not mercury or other HAPs. 

But wait a minute. Doesn’t the EPA already have the power to regulate PM emission levels? It certainly does. Section 108 of the Clean Air Act directs the EPA to set PM emission levels that are “requisite to protect the public health.” (The EPA reevaluates these standards every five years.) In fact, the EPA has already established a national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for PM emissions. The EPA states that “[over 90 percent] of the PM2.5-related benefits associated with [Utility MACT] occur below the level of the [NAAQS].” The Utility MACT rule is trying to do a job that the Clean Air Act has already done rendering Utility MACT irresponsibly useless. At best, the EPA is overstepping its bounds established by Congress by setting new emission levels for PMs beyond what is necessary to protect public health. 

Ok, but what if the benefits from the Utility MACT rule was actually going toward the reduction of mercury and HAPs? Utility MACT would still be unnecessary. The statutory authority for regulating mercury emissions under section 112(d) of the Clean Air Act is sufficiently broad to allow EPA to adopt a replacement rule that is substantially different from the Utility MACT rule. Under section 112(n)(1)(A) of the Clean Air Act, the EPA is directed to set standards for each HAP where the EPA has established a clear hazard to public health. The Clean Air Act gives the EPA sufficient power to regulate mercury and HAPs rendering the Utility MACT rule entirely unnecessary. 

What the Utility MACT rule would do is expand the already vast powers given to the EPA by the Clean Air Act, increasing red tape and imposing billions in new costs on the economy. 

What can be done to stop the Utility MACT?  Support S.J Res. 37 introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe! If passed, this resolution would overturn the EPA’s unnecessary and costly regulation. Under the CRA, slow procedural hurdles are eliminated and the resolution of disapproval can pass the Senate with a simple majority.  Call your Senator right now and ask them to support S.J Res. 37.        

Travis Fosbenner

A few things again :)

What's the difference between 'particular matter' and 'mercury and air toxics'? Are mercury and air toxics not particular matter?

The EPA estimated that only $500,000 to $6 million in benefits related to the new restrictions on mercury. You then go on to say that this is ridiculous because the mandate costs over $10 billion. That would be crazy! But you're only looking at the benefits from mercury restrictions. What about the benefits from the other types of particular matter? I found an EPA number claiming that the provision would rake in $37 billion to $90 billion annually. You're only writing about one specific benefit from this measure, not the overall benefits in total.

If there is a difference between 'particular matter' (which I think is actually particulate matter) and 'mercury and air toxics', why does it matter?

Though I don't fully understand the whole issue of this measure being unnecessary, this is what I've gathered so far. According to my research, you're right: the Clean Air Act does allow the EPA to set PM emission standard levels. I think that they were given this responsibility in a 1990 Clean Air Act Amendment, but I'm not sure on that. Anyway, isn't this Utility MACT rule just the EPA doing its job then? Since they are authorized to set these standards, what's the problem with them creating this Utility MACT rule? From my perspective, you're criticizing the EPA for doing a job that they have had the right to do for over two decades. But let me know if I'm wrong on this point, because I could have misunderstood something.

If the Utility MACT rule is unnecessary and just gives the EPA power that it already has, how does it 'expand the already vast powers give to the EPA by the Clean Air Act'? You have to pick a side. You can't tell me that the rule simply gives the EPA power that it already has and then say that it increases the agency's power. Both can't be true.


Wesley Coopersmith

Travis we seem to be in agreement. The EPA already has the authority to regulate PM2.5 emissions. The new Utility MACT rule is suppose to address mercury but it actually addresses PM2.5 emissions. This is why the rule is unnecessary. The rule is addressing an issue already addressed via the Clean Air Act. "Expanding the vast powers" was probably a poor choice in words but it was meant in the context of the sentence. It would expand the amount of red tape in the EPA and the amount of money the EPA is spending.