Friday, December 21, 2012

EPA Finalizes Boiler MACT, Cement & NHSM Rules

Dec 21: U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed the final changes to Clean Air Act standards for major and area source boilers (i.e. Boiler MACT) and commercial/industrial solid waste incinerators. EPA indicated in a release that the finalized changes to the standards for boilers and certain incinerators will achieve extensive public health protections by slashing toxic air pollution, including mercury and particle pollution, while at the same addressing feedback provided by industry and labor groups, increasing the rule's flexibility and dramatically reducing costs. As a result, 99 percent (99%) of the approximately 1.5 million boilers in the U.S. are not covered or can meet the new standards by conducting periodic maintenance or regular tune-ups.

    According to a release, the final adjustments to the standards are based on an extensive analysis of data and input from states, environmental groups, industry, lawmakers and the public. As a result of information gathered through this review, including significant dialogue and meetings with public health groups, industry, and the public, the final rule dramatically cuts the cost of implementation by individual boilers that EPA proposed in 2010. At the same time, these rules will continue to deliver significant public health benefits. EPA estimates that for every dollar spent to reduce these pollutants, the public will see $13 to $29 in health benefits, including fewer instances of asthma, heart attacks, as well as premature deaths.

    The rules set numerical emission limits for less than one percent of boilers -- those that emit the majority of pollution from this sector. For these high emitting boilers and incinerators, typically operating at refineries, chemical plants and other industrial facilities, EPA is establishing more targeted emissions limits that protect public health and provide industry with practical, cost-effective options to meet the standards.

    EPA also finalized revisions to the Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials (NHSM) Rule to provide clarity on what types of secondary materials are considered non-waste fuels and provide greater flexibility in rule implementation. This final rule classifies a number of secondary materials as categorical non-wastes when used as a fuel and allows for operators to request that EPA identify specific materials through rulemaking as a categorical non-waste fuel.

    Particle pollution and other harmful pollutants released by boilers and incinerators can lead to adverse health effects including cancer, heart disease, aggravated asthma and premature death. In addition, toxic pollutants such as mercury and lead that will be reduced by this rule are linked to developmental disabilities in children. These standards will avoid up to 8,100 premature deaths, prevent 5,100 heart attacks and avert 52,000 asthma attacks per year in 2015.

    In yet another, separate EPA action, to meet a court deadline, the Agency issued final amendments to the 2010 clean air standards for the cement manufacturing industry. EPA said the final amendments maintain the significant emission reductions from the 2010 standards, while providing industry additional time to implement the revised rules.
    Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Committee, was one of the first to react to EPA announcement. He praised EPA's action on industrial boilers used in major manufacturing facilities and elsewhere and said the new standards will reduce many types of pollution, including toxic mercury and weather-changing carbon pollution. Rep. Markey said, "Cutting mercury pollution from these industrial facilities will protect our children and cutting carbon pollution from these boilers will help heal the climate. From cars and trucks to power plants and now industrial boilers, the Obama administration is showing it is committed to cutting pollution. Republicans in Congress tried to block these pollution standards, and they failed. In this next Congress, Congressional Republicans should move to a real Plan B on pollution, where they support stronger standards for new power plants and other sources that are damaging our children's lungs and causing more extreme weather."
    The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons issued a statement on the final Boiler MACT regulation saying:

"For the second straight week, the EPA has finalized another costly and crippling regulation at a time when our economy is on the brink. Boiler MACT will not create jobs, and studies indicate it could cost manufacturers as much as $14 billion. Manufacturers are understandably growing more pessimistic about the direction of the economy. The end-of-year regulatory assault on businesses, combined with the uncertainty of the fiscal cliff, makes for one of the worst business environments in living memory.

"The NAM has weighed in with the EPA throughout this entire process to ensure the agency completely understood the damaging economic consequences of this regulation. We appreciate the EPA's efforts to engage with us and to modify the rule to make it more achievable. Unfortunately, this regulation remains far from being realistic. Currently, it is 20 percent more expensive to manufacture in the United States compared to our major trading partners, and Boiler MACT will only drive that differential higher. An improved version of a bad regulation is still a bad regulation.

"The EPA is taking the season of giving too far, as it has now issued three separate multibillion-dollar regulations in just the past seven days. The onslaught of regulations from the EPA means manufacturers will continue to see rising energy prices and skyrocketing compliance costs, which translate into few opportunities for growth and even fewer jobs. Any confidence manufacturers had that the EPA's next four years will be different is quickly eroding. We need a sensible approach to regulations and need the EPA to work with manufacturers to reduce the economic damage of overly aggressive regulations."

    The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued a brief statement on the EPA actions saying, "We appreciate EPA's thoughtful consideration of these rules and willingness to make sensible changes. While we need to review the rules for technical details, it appears that a number of improvements have been made. These include creating additional subcategories for boilers and more flexible compliance options for meeting emission limits, revising emission limits, allowing the use of work practice standards for certain pollutants, and providing more flexibility for units burning clean gases."
    John Walke, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Clean Air Program said, "These standards are a mixed bag. Americans will breathe cleaner air thanks to the EPA reducing dangerous pollution from thousands of local boilers in communities across the country. This will save more than 8,000 lives every year, an important public health achievement and better than previous standards had promised. The agency, however, eased standards in their final rules for cement manufacturers, which is troubling and deserves further explanation."
    James Bradbury, Senior Associate, World Resources Institute (WRI) issued a statement saying, "Just in time for the holidays, this is a welcome gift for people and the planet. These new environmental standards will help spur greater efficiency across a range of U.S. industrial and commercial energy users. The EPA has taken steps to ensure that the rule will promote energy efficiency by improving environmental performance while increasing flexibility for affected facilities. This is good news for the manufacturing workforce, for public health, and for the climate."
    Access a release from EPA on the three actions (click here). Access more detailed information on the final standards for boilers and incinerators (click here). Access more on the Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials Rule (click here). Access a release from Rep. Markey (click here). Access the statement from NAM (click here). Access the statement from ACC (click here). Access the statement from NRDC (click here). Access the statement from WRI (click here). [#Air]
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