Maryland Governor Proposes Plan to Reduce Plant Emissions

Earlier this month, Maryland Governor Erlich (R) proposed the Maryland Clean Power Rule ("MCP Rule"), which would mandate constant emission controls and greatly diminish nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and mercury emissions from Maryland power plants, years ahead of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) and Clean Air Mercury Rule.  Under the MCP Rule, by 2010, NOx emissions would be reduced by 45,000 tons per year (69%); SO2 emissions would be reduced by 205,000 tons per year (85%); and mercury emissions would be reduced by 1,400 pounds per year (70%), with a second phase of controls reducing mercury emissions by 90% by 2018.  The limits imposed by the MCP Rule also would help cut fine particulate matter emissions and help the state to meet federal standards, as called for in CAIR by 2010.

The MCP Rule's emission limits would have the biggest impact on Maryland's six largest coal-fired power stations, three of which are owned by Constellation Energy and three by Mirant. According to the Governor's office, these six stations produce 95% of the state's power plant emissions.   Under the MCP Rule, plants would have to add pollution controls to meet the emission reductions instead of buying out-of-state emissions allowances.  Companies would be permitted to average emissions among their plants, but would not be able to trade with other companies.

The MCP Rule is expected to be published in the Maryland Register sometime in early 2006 and hearings on it will be held in the spring by the state's Department of Environment.