Friday, January 21, 2011

EPA: Boiler MACT Rules To Be "Significantly Different" Than Proposed

EPA: Boiler MACT Rules To Be "Significantly Different" Than Proposed - Jan 20: A Federal District Court judge in Washington DC issued an order extending by 30 days U.S. EPA's deadline to issue emission standards for large and small boilers and solid waste and sewage sludge incinerators. EPA said it is disappointed that the extension was not longer; however, the Agency said it will work diligently to issue these standards by this new deadline. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman extends the court-ordered schedule for EPA to issue the rules from January 16, 2011 to February 21, 2011.
    In its opinion in the case of Sierra Club v. EPA, the Court said, "EPA has not justified its request for an extension until June 15 and July 15, 2011. Nor has EPA even attempted to show that a more expeditious schedule would be impossible. Indeed, EPA's own papers make clear to the Court that its requested extensions would not reflect a schedule of 'utmost diligence.' Accordingly, the Court rejects EPA's proposed schedule and prescribes a more expeditious one."

    In a release, EPA said "the standards will be significantly different than what EPA proposed in April 2010. The Agency believes these changes still deserve further public review and comment and expects to solicit further comment through a reconsideration of the rules." Through the reconsideration process, EPA intends to ensure that the rules will be practical to implement and will protect all Americans from dangerous pollutants such as mercury and soot, which can damage children's developing brains, aggravate asthma and cause heart attacks. The Agency is considering all other options for addressing these issues before the rules would become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    EPA received more than 4,800 comments and additional data during the public comment period for the rules. EPA said the information has shed new light on a number of key areas, including the scope and coverage of the rules and the way to categorize the various boiler types. Given the extensive comments, EPA filed a motion with the court asking for more time to fully evaluate all the comments and data and finalize the rules [See WIMS 12/7/10]. EPA was under a court order to issue the final rules on January 16, 2011, and was seeking in its motion to the court to extend the schedule to finalize the rules by April 13, 2012.
    EPA has estimated that there are more than 200,000 boilers operating in industrial facilities, commercial buildings, hotels and universities located in highly populated areas and communities across the country. EPA has estimated that for every $5 spent on reducing the pollutants, the public will see $12 in health and other benefits.
    In a release, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said, "Industry has done everything it can to delay these clean up measures. These polluters must be held accountable. Unchecked toxic air pollution from industrial plants is making our families sick." Jim Pew of Earthjustice who represented Sierra Club said, "Every day that industry succeeds in delaying these crucial protections equates to human suffering in the form of lives lost and worsened health. The rule undisputedly will prevent some of the unnecessary deaths and suffering caused by industrial boilers' and incinerators' uncontrolled emissions. Clean air saves lives, and it's time for the companies that operate these big industrial facilities to become better neighbors by keeping their toxic pollution out of our homes, our air, and our food."  

    Sierra Club said that EPA's draft health safeguard for boilers and incinerators, proposed in June 2010 after a decade of delay, is expected to save nearly five thousand lives each year and prevent 3,000 heart attacks, 33,000 cases of aggravated asthma, and millions of acute respiratory problems. The benefits of the proposed health safeguard are projected to outweigh the costs by at least $14 billion every year. The safeguard could also result in the creation of up to 9,000 jobs as pollution controls and new technologies are installed, according to the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. 
    The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued a release and expressed disappointment about the court's decision to grant EPA only one additional month to issue industrial boiler emission standards. Cal Dooley, ACC President and CEO said, "Today's decision is bad news for U.S. manufacturers, large industries and small businesses alike. After hearing from numerous stakeholders that the proposed rules would cost businesses billions and tens of thousands of jobs, EPA wisely asked for more time to consider new information. Because of today's ruling, EPA will not have adequate opportunity to improve the rules to ensure they are achievable, effective and will not stifle economic growth or put more Americans out of work." In a January 18, 2011, letter to Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, ACC indicated that it has estimated that the so-called, "Boiler MACT" rules "would jeopardize some 60,000 jobs and impose capital costs on the order of $3.8 billion in the chemical industry alone."
    A study prepared for the Council of Industrial Boiler Operators (CIBO) released in August 2010, concluded that every $1B spent on upgrade and compliance costs will put 16,000 jobs at risk and reduce US GDP by as much as $1.2B. The study said a significant portion of this "economic pain" would be felt in supplier networks.

    Access a release from EPA (click here). Access the Court order (click here). Access the Court opinion (click here). Access further information on the proposed rules from EPA's Emissions Standards for Boilers and Process Heaters and Commercial / Industrial Solid Waste Incinerators website (click here). Access more information on EPA's Boiler MACT rule (click here). Access a release from Sierra Club (click here). Access a release from ACC and link to more information (click here). Access ACC's letter to Chairman Issa (click here). Access the CIBO study (click here).
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