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Coal distinction alleviates Western producer anxiety

WYOMING coal producers have expressed relief that a distinction has been made between subbituminous and bituminous coal in the recently released draft federal rules governing mercury emissions.

Angie Tomlinson
Coal distinction alleviates Western producer anxiety

The proposed rule will require power plants to upgrade their facilities to reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) and reduce mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants. The proposed mercury rules would focus on coal-fired power plants primarily; the proposed cap-and-trade alternative would cut mercury emissions to 15 tons when fully implemented after 2018, a reduction of 70% from current levels.

Wyoming’s coal industry were concerned they would be hurt more by the rules because of the subbituminous nature of the coal, which contains elemental mercury.

Associated Press reported the state’s producers argued elemental mercury was more difficult to remove from coal before combustion than the ionized and particulate mercury found in the bituminous coal found in Eastern states. Accordingly, Western industry argued a blanket policy would discriminate against its region.

The Environmental Protection Agency has not gone for a blanket approach, but instead have drawn distinctions between bituminous, subbituminous and lignite coals and set different mercury caps accordingly, Associated Press said. Subbituminous coal will be allowed nearly three times higher mercury content than bituminous.

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