Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bipartisan Senate Bill Would Extend Time On "Boiler MACT" Rules

Jul 20: U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced bipartisan legislation (S.1392) which they say would allow the U.S. EPA the time it has said it needs to adequately consider new "Boiler MACT" rules [See WIMS 6/24/11]. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

    In April 2010, pursuant to court orders, EPA first announced new Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) regulations on many fossil fuel and biomass-fired boilers in the United States. Recognizing that it needed more data and time to write the rule, in December 2010, EPA requested a 15-month extension to rework and finalize the rule, and to receive further public comment, which was rejected by a court. When EPA issued the rule in February of 2011, it immediately proposed that it be open to comment and revision. The bill introduced by the Senators would establish a clear timetable and conditions for reissuance of the regulations.

    Specifically, the bipartisan legislation would:
  • Give EPA 15 months from the bill's date of enactment to re-propose and finalize the Boiler MACT regulations.
  • Extend compliance deadlines from three years to at least five years which would allow facilities adequate time to comply with the new standards and install necessary equipment.
  • Clarify that renewable and carbon-neutral materials remain classified as fuel and not solid waste.
  • Direct EPA to ensure that the new rules are achievable by real-world boilers, process heaters, and incinerators, and impose the least burdensome regulator alternatives consistent with the President's Executive Order.
    Senator Collins said, "The EPA performs vital functions in helping to protect the public health by ensuring that the air we breathe is clean and the water we drink is safe. We need, however, to make sure that as the EPA issues new regulations, it does not create so many roadblocks to economic growth that it discourages private investment, which is the key to maintaining and creating jobs. At a time when manufacturers are struggling to retain jobs, it is essential that this rule not jeopardize thousands of jobs in manufacturing, particularly in the forest products industry, by imposing billions of dollars of new costs. Our legislation provides common sense solutions to the challenges the EPA is facing in attempting to implement these complicated rules, which if written without proper data, analysis, and consideration, would cost the industry billions of dollars and potentially thousands of jobs."

    Senator Wyden said, "EPA itself has admitted that its boiler rules need to be fixed. As they are written now, the rules will stymie the burgeoning biomass energy industry and make it very difficult for existing lumber and wood products mills to operate. This legislation directs the EPA to go back to the drawing board and craft boiler rules that are more in line with what is realistic for mills and factories and does not restrict future use of biomass energy."

    The legislation is supported by the American Forest and Paper Association, National Association of Manufacturing, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business, Business Roundtable, Biomass Power Association, and approximately 25 other national associations.
    On June 24, as part of a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, U.S. EPA has set a schedule for issuing updated air toxics standards for boilers and certain solid waste incinerators (i.e. "Boiler MACT" rules). EPA said that to ensure that the standards are based on the best available data and the public is given ample opportunity to provide additional input and information, it would propose standards to be reconsidered by the end of October 2011 and issue final standards by the end of April 2012. EPA said that "this is the best approach to put in place technically and legally sound standards that will bring significant health benefits to the American public." [See WIMS 6/24/11].
    On June 22, responding to what they say are "urgent calls from job creators across a range of industries, bipartisan members of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce have introduced H.R.2250, the EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011. The proposal would direct EPA to develop achievable standards affecting non-utility boilers and incinerators and grants additional time for development of and compliance with the rules. The legislation would stay the boiler and incinerator rules and calls for EPA to repropose the rules within 15 months and extend compliance times from 3 to 5 years [See WIMS 6/22/11].
    Access a release from Senator Collins including a link to the industry support letter (click here). Access legislative details for S.1392 (click here). Access legislative details for H.R.2250 (click here). Access complete information and background on the Boiler MACT rule from EPA (click here). [*Air]

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