— Chad Livengood (@ChadLivengood) October 24, 2015
Feds Step In, Things Get Much Worse
Things may have quieted down in Michigan after Proposal 3’s demise in 2012, but President Obama’s EPA were furiously developing their ‘War on Coal’ to dramatically increase the cost reduce pollution of electricity generation. The Mercury and Air Toxics (MATs, also known as MACT) rule requires scrubbers on all coal-fired power plants nationally, costing something north of $ 1 million per steam boiler. The Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) requires Michigan coal-fired power plants to reduce their thermal efficiency during peak summertime generating periods to reduce oxides of nitrogen at a yet to be determined cost.
In 2014, EPA’s ‘Cooling Water Intake Structures’ rule finally went into effect after a decade of legal wrangling, requiring that Michigan’s electrical utilities take some very expensive steps over 8 years to protect the Great Lakes’ beloved zebra mussel and round goby populations.
At the end of 2014, EPA imposed newly restrictive rules on the disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCRs), commonly known as coal ash, from coal-fired power plants. Almost unique in the history of Federal regulation, EPA admitted in their final CCR rule that it had a negative cost-benefit ratio. Fly ash, the most abundant CCR, is actually a remedy for the alkali-silica reaction (ASR) which causes premature failure of many MDoT concrete structures. So EPA managed to simultaneously increase Michigan’s cost of electricity generation and reduce the lifespan of our roads and bridges. An Obama ‘two fer’.
EPA expects to finalize its ‘Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category’ in September 2015. Known by the acronyms SEEG or ELG, these rules will change the way all electrical power stations handle cooling, process, and steam condensate water. These rules cover all steam powered turbine operations, but will most severely affect coal-fired power stations whose MATs required scrubbers and CCR required ash handling systems will generate a lot of waste water.