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 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.