The EPA on Tuesday extended by 30 days the timeline for public input on the proposed mercury and air toxics standards, though it stressed that the extension would not alter the timeline for issuing the final standards in November 2011. The public comment period for the so-called Toxic Air rule will now end on August 4, 2011.

The rule essentially curbs mercury, acid gases, and other pollution from power plants and keeps 91% of the mercury in coal from being released to the air. No national limits on the amount of mercury released from power plant stacks currently exists.

“In our effort to be responsive to Congress and to build on the robust public comment process, we will extend the timeline for public input by 30 days, which will not impact the timeline for issuing the final standards," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

The EPA proposed the rule in March. The standards are expected to be phased in over three years, and states can give facilities an extra year to comply.

“Currently, more than half of all coal-fired power plants already deploy widely available pollution control technologies that are called for to meet these important standards,” the EPA said. “Once they are final in November, these standards will ensure the remaining coal-fired plants, roughly 44 percent, take similar steps to decrease dangerous pollutants.”

Sources: POWERnews, EPA