Thursday, February 24, 2011

More Reaction To EPA's Final "Boiler MACT" Rules

Feb 23: The following represents additional reaction to U.S. EPA's issuance of the final Clean Air Act standards for boilers and certain incinerators -- the so-called "Boiler MACT" rules [See WIMS 2/23/11]. EPA said the standards will achieve significant public health protections through reductions in toxic air emissions, including mercury and soot, but cut the cost of implementation by about 50 percent from an earlier proposal issued last year. EPA indicates that mercury, soot, lead and other harmful pollutants released by boilers and incinerators can lead to developmental disabilities in children, as well as cancer, heart disease, aggravated asthma and premature death in Americans. EPA said the standards will avoid between 2,600-6,600 premature deaths, prevent 4,100 heart attacks and avert 42,000 asthma attacks per year in 2014. Yesterday WIMS reported on the details of the rules and the early reactions of National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Earthjustice and Sierra Club.
    House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) indicated that they were reiterating their concerns about efforts by EPA to finalize boiler and incinerator rules "despite the agency's own acknowledgement of a flawed rulemaking process and product." In mid-January, a Federal district court denied the EPA's request for a 15-month extension on the final emissions standards for boilers and incinerators -- rules that will affect thousands of manufacturing and industrial facilities, small businesses, educational institutions, hospitals, and local agencies. They said they continue to believe the new rules have the potential to impose significant economic harm and underscore the dangers of the agency's flawed regulatory tactics.
    In a joint statement the two said, "How can anyone have confidence in rules that the EPA was admittedly unprepared to issue just weeks ago? However, we are not the only ones lacking confidence. It is extraordinary that EPA itself announced that it will be filing for reconsideration of the rules on the very same day they were released. This is not how the rulemaking process is supposed to work. If the rules needs to be reconsidered, then let's take the time to get this done right to protect public health and jobs.

    "At a time when we are enduring 21 consecutive months of 9 percent or higher unemployment, we cannot afford to rush sweeping regulations that have the potential to do more harm than good. For example, the proposed rules were estimated to put more than 300,000 jobs at risk. The EPA was operating under court order to meet this week's deadline, but we continue to believe sound policymaking should trump arbitrary timelines. If congressional intervention is needed to provide EPA the time it needs to provide careful, defensible rules that will not invite additional judicial challenge, the Committee on Energy and Commerce is prepared to act. The American public deserves a thoughtful, deliberative ruling that it can have faith in."

    Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), the Ranking Member on the Natural Resources Committee and a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee issued a statement saying, "The regulations released today provide another example of how EPA can both curb toxic air pollution and save lives cost-effectively, using industry input and sound science. EPA's action stands in stark contrast to the campaign that House Republicans launched on the House floor last week to prevent limits on toxic pollution that endangers the health of children, pregnant women and the elderly. I'm not holding my breath that industry-friendly Republicans will support the EPA's new anti-pollution rules, but the public's health and well-being depend on putting these standards in place as soon as possible."

    The American Chemistry Council (ACC) said it welcomed the EPA changes in the standards; however, it believes further improvements are needed.  Cal Dooley, President and CEO of ACC said, "We commend EPA for its commitment to improving the Boiler MACT standards. The final rules show progress, but because the courts denied EPA's request for more time, more must be done to ensure important adjustments are made. We strongly support a reconsideration of the rules. By listening to stakeholders, seeking new data and revisiting early conclusions, we believe EPA had begun to lay the groundwork for more effective, less costly regulations that can help avoid the loss of U.S. business investment and jobs. Now EPA deserves the time to finish the job. Major industries, small businesses, municipalities and institutions across the country will be affected by the outcome."

    ACC listed what it considered "improvements" EPA made to the final rules as: More realistic emission limits based on its revised methodology; Work practice standards for Gas 2 fired boilers using clean burning fuels; Adjustments to emissions limits based on fuel variability; Work practices for periods of start-up and shut-down; and An acknowledgement that solid fuel boilers can burn a variety of fuels. However, ACC said it will continue to make additional changes including: The use of alternative health-based emissions limits; The use of a pollutant-by-pollutant approach to set limits; and Work practices for periods of malfunction.

    The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Clean Air Project Director John Walke issued a statement saying, "EPA could have done more, but these standards accomplish long overdue, needed cuts in mercury, benzene, heavy metal and acid gas pollution from industrial plants. While the final biomass standards are notably relaxed in response to industry complaints, overall the safeguards still will save up to 6,500 lives, avoid 4,000 heart attacks, and prevent more than 46,000 cases of aggravated asthma and bronchitis every year. Americans deserve these tremendous health benefits without political interference by Congress."

    The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) issued a release indicating that EPA's actions would "preserve scrap tire markets and ensure the continued success of scrap tire management." RMA said the rule allows annually generated scrap tires that are removed from vehicles to be used as fuel by an industrial facility. Cement kilns, pulp and paper mills and electric utilities are the major users of tire derived fuel (TDF).

    RMA said in its proposed rule, EPA recommended that annually generated tires be processed to remove the metal before being considered a fuel under the Clean Air Act. However, "that provision would have merely increased the energy consumption, air emissions and costs associated with delivering tire derived fuels to industrial customers without any environmental benefit." RMA said it recognizes that "EPA is still requiring processing of whole tires removed from historical scrap tire stockpiles. RMA continues to encourage EPA to consider a more expansive definition of processing to allow these whole tires to be combusted as tire derived fuel." RMA said it continues to evaluate the final rule for additional insights and impacts on the tire industry.

    Charles Cannon, RMA president and CEO said, "EPA clearly listened to the arguments advocated by RMA and other key stakeholders to deliver a rule that ensures continued improvement in scrap tire management efforts in the U.S. While we are still analyzing several aspects of this final rule, the big picture is that this is a victory for the environment and for RMA's scrap tire advocacy efforts."

    Access a release from Representatives Upton & Whitfield (click here). Access the statement from Rep. Markey (click here). Access a release from ACC with link to more information (click here). Access a statement from NRDC (click here). Access the complete release from RMA (click here).

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