The EPA’s new regulations on mercury and other pollutants in coal-fired power plants and other power plants require that all new or existing plants be equipped with a “properly designed and installed” mercury monitoring system, the agency said.
The EPA will be able to test the mercury levels of all plants in its monitoring area by 2020.
The agency will be required to make public all mercury data collected and to provide the information to the public.
The Mercury and Air Toxics Control Act requires the EPA to set and enforce standards for the treatment and disposal of mercury in the United States.
A recent report from the Congressional Research Service said that the EPA is not meeting the standards required under the law, and that the agency could lose $11 billion if the mercury standards are not enforced.
The regulations are also expected to raise costs to power plants, and may require them to pay for costly monitoring and testing for their mercury.
The report, titled Mercury and the Marketplace, found that the regulatory framework in place today will increase the costs of power plants by more than $10 billion per year over the next decade.
The cost of mercury monitoring is expected to increase from about $3 billion per plant to $5 billion.
“The costs of monitoring mercury, both the cost of monitoring and the cost to the utility, will grow significantly as new equipment and new technology is deployed,” the report said.
“As we move toward the end of the 2030s, we must ensure that mercury monitoring standards are in place for all new and existing coal plants.”
The regulations also require the EPA, in its annual review of compliance, to provide a list of mercury contamination sites.
The list will include all sites in the monitoring area where mercury has been found and will include a summary of the total amount of mercury that was present in the air, water, soil and land in the area.
The amount of pollution that could be considered a health threat to people should be reduced by 90 percent if mercury levels fall below 10 parts per million.
The rules also will require that utilities have the ability to test for mercury at all their facilities and at their supply and demand points.
“These standards will also help protect people and the environment from mercury contamination,” the EPA said in a statement.
“They will also increase the efficiency and effectiveness of mercury detection and prevention technology, reduce mercury emissions, and enhance environmental stewardship.
EPA will use the findings of this comprehensive assessment to identify new, innovative technologies and improve the effectiveness of current technology.”
The EPA did not respond to a request for comment on the new rules.
The EPA’s Mercury and Energy Efficiency Standards also require that power plants be certified by the agency as meeting standards to reduce mercury pollution from their power plants.