Clean Air Act: Preliminary Observations on the Effectiveness and Costs of Mercury Control Technologies at Coal-Fired Power Plants

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The 491 U.S. coal-fired power plants are the largest unregulated industrial source of mercury emissions nationwide, annually emitting about 48 tons of mercury--a toxic element that poses health threats, including neurological disorders in children. In 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that mercury emissions from these sources should be regulated, but the agency has not set a maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standard, as the Clean Air Act requires. Some power plants, however, must reduce mercury emissions to comply with state laws or consent decrees. After managing ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. July 9, 2009.

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The 491 U.S. coal-fired power plants are the largest unregulated industrial source of mercury emissions nationwide, annually emitting about 48 tons of mercury--a toxic element that poses health threats, including neurological disorders in children. In 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that mercury emissions from these sources should be regulated, but the agency has not set a maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standard, as the Clean Air Act requires. Some power plants, however, must reduce mercury emissions to comply with state laws or consent decrees. After managing a long-term mercury control research and development program, the Department of Energy (DOE) reported in 2008 that systems that inject sorbents--powdery substances to which mercury binds--into the exhaust from boilers of coal-fired power plants were ready for commercial deployment. Tests of sorbent injection systems, the most mature mercury control technology, were conducted on a variety of coal types and boiler configurations--that is, on boilers using different air pollution control devices. This testimony provides preliminary data from GAO's ongoing work on (1) reductions achieved by mercury control technologies and the extent of their use at coal-fired power plants, (2) the cost of mercury control technologies in use at these plants, and (3) key issues EPA faces in regulating mercury emissions from power plants. GAO obtained data from power plants operating sorbent injection systems."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • July 9, 2009

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Clean Air Act: Preliminary Observations on the Effectiveness and Costs of Mercury Control Technologies at Coal-Fired Power Plants, text, July 9, 2009; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc293750/: accessed September 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.