Sen. Rand Paul today released the following statement regarding the EPA's first limits on mercury pollution from coal-fired plants, otherwise known as Utility MACT (maximum achievable control technology).
"While mercury exposure is and should be taken seriously for existing regulations, the current impact of mercury emissions from U.S. sources is vastly overstated," Sen. Paul said. "This is one of the most expensive rules in the history of the EPA, costing at least $10 billion and tens of thousands of jobs in the utility and mining sectors. Mercury emissions should be controlled - but in a way that balances thoughtful science with economic realities and our energy needs. This rule does not reflect this balance and should be repealed."
More on Utility MACT:
On March 16, 2011, the EPA issued a 946-page proposed rule to establish maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards to control mercury emissions from coal and oil fired power plants. The rule includes an extremely strict requirement that all existing power plants must equal the average performance of the top 12 percent of power plants - and new plants must meet an even more stringent standard.
There are reasons to examine this rule with skepticism. At least 30 percent of the mercury that is in the U.S. comes from other countries, and more than 80 percent of mercury-laden seafood is from foreign countries. The Electric Power Research Institute estimates that less than 5 percent of the 2,500 tons of mercury released each year comes from the United States. Jeff Holstead, a former EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, notes that "[E]ven if you could eliminate all the mercury emissions in the U.S. completely, from every source of mercury pollution, you would have almost no impact on people's exposure."
EPA admits that this proposal will cost at least $10 billion, making it one of the most expensive rules in the history of the agency. A 2005 analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that, depending on the availability of technologies capable of meeting the rule's requirements, resource costs could be as high as $261 to $358 billion. The National Mining Association warns that Utility MACT could shutter 28 to 62 percent of coal fired plants and cause 12,800 to 53,000 job losses in the utility and mining sectors.