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Monday, 05 November 2012 17:04
EPA Pushes Back on Calls for Revised MATS Timeline
U.S. EPA last week urged a federal court to reject an industry request that would force the agency to finalize reconsideration of mercury and air toxics limits by March 2013.

At issue is White Stallion v. EPA, one of three industry- and state-led lawsuits challenging EPA's new limits for mercury and other hazardous air emissions, or MATS. EPA is now reconsidering part of the regulations in compliance with the court.

Last month, the challengers charged that the agency is not moving quickly enough to meet its April 2013 construction deadline for new facilities, urging the court to expedite EPA's schedule.

"Given the many administrative steps EPA must climb before it can publish a final rule on reconsideration, EPA's refusal to vacate the unlawful rule in the interim, and now EPA's report of scant progress in the past three months, petitioners face the real risk that their projects will be regulated into oblivion without any meaningful opportunity for judicial review of EPA's unlawful action," they wrote.

EPA strongly pushed back on the motion in documents filed Thursday. The agency emphasized that it is indeed on track to complete the reconsideration before April next year.

"Contrary to petitioners' characterization of EPA's October status report," EPA wrote, "EPA is not 'far from' finalizing a rulemaking proposal. EPA, in fact, has prepared near-final drafts of the proposed rule on reconsideration and preamble, as well as the associated technical support documents."

The challengers also highlighted EPA's proposed rule for greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants. They argued that in order to begin construction before those rules take effect, they will need to commence before April 12, 2013, "but they are inhibited from doing so by EPA's ... MATS rule standards."

EPA sharply criticized the petitioners for trying to rope the greenhouse gas rule, which was proposed last March, saying it has no bearing on the MATS case. The agency argued that the rule is not finalized yet, and the date for when it will be completed has not been set. Consequently, they argue, it is irrelevant to the lawsuit.

The challengers' argument, EPA said, "is premised on speculation that EPA will take final action on a separate proposed rule concerning greenhouse gas standards without amending that proposal. As EPA has explained previously ... EPA has invited comments on all aspects of its separate greenhouse gas proposal, and has not made any final decision concerning that proposal."

Click HERE for EPA's filing.

Click HERE for the challengers' filing.

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