The "Air Pollution Management" Newsletter

June 2008
No. 362

Positive Events for Retrofit

New Clean Air Act

As discussed under “anti-environmental administration and legislature” above the Bush Administration tried to pass Clear Skies in 2003. Now there is a bill supported by moderates on both sides of the aisle.

The Clean Air Planning Act of 2007 includes calls for CO2 emissions to be capped at today's levels by 2012 and annually reduced to achieve levels in 2050 that are 25 percent lower than emissions were in 1990. Power plants could buy CO2 allowances on the open market, according to lead Democratic sponsor Senator Tom Carper of Delaware. Coal-fired power plants that use cleaner fuel than the standard coal, such as coal gasification technology, would receive bonus allowances to sell. The bill would also cut SO2 by 82 percent and NOx by 68 percent by 2015. Mercury would be cut 90 percent by 2015. Carper introduced a similar bill last year but it stalled in committee.

The difficulties facing passage of this bill do not involve the 90 percent mercury reduction, but are centered on the CO2. But some compromise on this issue is likely. President Bush has changed his position to one closer to the opposition.

On April 16 Bush called for major polluters like China and India to stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and further called for abandonment of trade barriers on energy-related technology.

“In support of this process, and based on technology advances and strong new policy, it is now time for the U.S. to look beyond 2012,” he said. “We’ve shown that we can slow emissions growth. Today, I’m announcing a new national goal: to stop the growth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.”

So some compromise which sets a growth cap beyond the 15 years in the forecast would not impact the retrofit market. A new Clean Air Act would likely require each power plant to control mercury and yet would not force retirement of older plants. It would be a positive factor. The odds are ten to one or higher that there will be a new Clean Air Act in the next few years.

This new act will also probably address new source performance standards applicable to coal plants under design or planning. The efficiency may be higher than 90 percent. If systems are available for 95 percent efficiency at reasonable cost then the higher level would likely be mandated.

NSPS for particulate at 0.03 lbs/MMBtu requires efficiency of greater than 99.9 percent. So 90 percent for mercury seems low by comparison.


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