FERC Issues Policy Statement on Advising the EPA on MATS Extensions

Photo by Titus Tscharntke. Some rights reserved.

Photo by Titus Tscharntke. Some rights reserved.

This guidance used to be just a glimmer in the commission’s eye. But as of May 17th, it’s official. That’s when FERC released its Policy Statement on the Commission’s Role Regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

The Policy Statement specifically explains how FERC will provide advice to the EPA for it to rule on requests for Administrative Orders (AO) to operate in noncompliance with EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Last week’s Policy Statement was drawn up with consideration of all comments FERC received on a January 2012 white paper soliciting input on the staff’s position on the topic. (Our original post on the topic describes the standards and the EPA/FERC relationship in a bit more detail.)

Van Ness Feldman’s recent Alert on the topic sums up nicely both the Policy Statement and its implications:

FERC’s new Policy Statement provides that for each such extension request, it will advise EPA whether failure to grant such an extension might lead to a violation of a FERC-approved Reliability Standard.  It will not, however, recommend to EPA that the Agency grant or deny such extension requests, and will not advise EPA on potential impacts that are not within FERC’s jurisdiction over reliability standards. 


The Policy Statement has a narrow scope limited to case-by-case input to EPA on the potential reliability issues raised by individual generators retrofit or deactivation timelines that fall within FERC’s reliability jurisdiction.  FERC’s input is not binding guidance to EPA.  Moreover, the Policy Statement does not address the broad scope of reliability concerns that industry and policymakers have raised in connection with the Utility MATS rule.  Concerns such as system resource adequacy and safety, coordination to schedule outages among generators within a region, and the potential regional reliability impact of multiple base load generators that choose to deactivate rather than comply with the Utility MATS rule are not addressed in FERC’s Policy Statement.  The limited scope of the Policy Statement may prompt renewed calls by policymakers as well as industry for a more comprehensive, coordinated regional process to address the broader reliability concerns with the Utility MATS rule.

One response to this post.

  1. And the analysis keeps rolling in. Check out our Law Firm Memo search page: http://www.knowledgemosaic.com/net/sm/Memo.aspx. Type: FERC and MATS in the text search box to find recent memos on this topic.


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