This bill would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide greater flexibility to certain power plants that are subject to emissions limits under the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) and the Mercury and Toxic Air Standards for Power Plants (MATS). Affected power plants generate electricity by burning coal refuse — a waste byproduct of coal that when sitting idle can catch fire or pollute bodies of water — as their primary fuel source, generating relatively inexpensive energy.
The EPA would be required to allocate the same number of emissions allowances for sulfur dioxide in 2017 that have been previously allocated to those plants, rather than reducing the number of allowances. Plants would be prohibited from transferring unused allowances to other entities and would allow coal refuse operators to bank their allowances for use in future years. There would be no change in the total number of allowances allocated to each state under CSAPR.
Additionally, the EPA would be required to allow operators of coal refuse plants to comply with an alternative emissions standard for sulfur dioxide that is less stringent than the current MATS.