Controlling Power Plant Emissions: Overview
Chronology of Actions to Date
When the Clean Air Act was amended in 1990, EPA was given authority to control mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from major sources of emissions to the air. For fossil fuel-fired power plants, the amendments required EPA to conduct a study of hazardous air pollutant emissions. The Adminstrator was required to consider the study and other information and to make a finding as to whether regulation was appropriate and necessary. Standards of control were to be issued if a positive finding was made. In 2000, the EPA Administrator found that regulation of hazardous air pollutants, including mercury, from coal and oil-fired power plants was appropriate and necessary. This page provides a detailed chronology of events concerning the control of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from electric power plants.
In 1999, EPA estimated that approximately 75 tons of mercury were found in the coal delivered to power plants each year and about two thirds of this mercury was emitted to the air, resulting in about 50 tons being emitted annually. This 25-ton reduction was achieved through existing pollution controls such as fabric filters (for particulate matter), scrubbers (for SO2) and SCRs (for NOx). As more scrubbers and SCRs are installed to comply with the Clean Air Interstate Rule and other regulations, and as mercury control technology is used in response to state mercury regulation, emissions may decrease.
This page provides more information on technologies to reduce mercury from power plants.
This page provides information about sources of mercury emissions throughout the world, the global distribution of emissions, and how U.S. mercury emissions fit into the global picture.