On December 21st, 2011 the EPA announced its newly proposed MACT Rules, placing stringent requirements on mercury and toxics emissions from power plants. The new rules were issued under the authority of the Clean Air Act, and are expected to heavily impact existing and new coal-fired power plants. According to AP, EPA “has estimated that 14.7 gigawatts — enough power for more than 11 million households — will be retired from the power grid in the 2014-15 period when the rules take effect.”

The rules have received a great deal of criticism, ranging from the anticipated impacts on industry and employment to EPA’s “methodology for calculating [the rules’] costs and benefits.” According to POLITICO, “Republicans are planning a public dissection of the Clean Air Act as part of their busy 2012 agenda.”