Natural gas and the environment: the effect of the new EPA MATS/MACT regulations

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Title: Natural gas and the environment: the effect of the new EPA MATS/MACT regulations
Author: Trimberger, Karen
Abstract: Abstract Trimberger, Karen. Natural Gas and the Environment: The Effect of the New EPA MATS/MACT Regulations In late 2011, the EPA promulgated regulations (MACT/MATS) to reduce toxic air emissions from coal and oil fired electric utility steam generating units and industrial boilers. Some groups believe the regulations “encourage” fuel switching from coal or petroleum liquids to NG and a number of utility companies have already announced plans to switch. Utility commissions east of the Mississippi River were surveyed to determine if the MACT/MATS regulations have played a significant role in future compliance planning. Also, data obtained from EIA was analyzed to determine the cost of converting a set percentage of existing coal-fired plants to NG and clean coal technology. Of the surveys returned (6:24), only four commissions indicated that some of the planned conversions to NG were driven by regulatory compliance. The remaining stated that MATS was one of many issues impacting possible changes at facilities. Analysis of the EIA data indicated that it was significantly cheaper to convert to NG than clean coal. The projected cost of NG (currently low) over the next 10 to 20 years will play a role in the fuel switching decision. The economics and possible fuel cost savings associated with NG maybe the driving force in the utility companies’ decision to fuel switch, rather than switching as a method of compliance. The undetermined consequence of MATS/MACT regulations is whether the switching to, and the resultant increase in demand for NG, will ultimately lead to a transfer of environmental contaminants from one environmental media (air) to others (soil, water) in the drive to reduce air emissions.
Date: 2013-06

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