This past Friday, the United States Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will postpone Utility MACT by a month, with a final rule now expected by December 16th. According to a report from Reuters, “the EPA said it needs the extra time to review 960,000 comments it received on its draft rule.”
“The EPA has made the right decision to postpone the final rule on Utility MACT and further study public comment,” said Lance Brown, PACE Executive Director. “The question now is whether the agency will actually heed the concerns from across the U.S. and establish a rule with more realistic timelines and goals.”
Some analysts believe Utility MACT would threaten both the reliability and cost of electricity by establishing timelines that would force the premature closure of coal-fired capacity. American Electric Power and Duke Energy, two major power producers, have already stated that Utility MACT would shut down coal-fired facilities on their systems. In recent weeks, the rule has been challenged in U.S. District Court by 25 attorneys general, who argued that EPA’s rulemaking would have serious consequences for electricity consumers.
For its part, EPA has made clear that it has no intention of further delaying Utility MACT.
Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation and a prominent spokesperson for the agency, told those gathered at the University of North Dakota’s annual air quality conference in Arlington, “We are in the final stretches of rules that are significantly important for public health. We must continue, and we will.”