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Industry Critical of EPA Boiler and Incinerator Rules

Date: September 8, 2010

Source: News Room

Industry groups are critical of EPA's proposed air toxics rules for incinerators and boilers and say that if implemented, they would have a significantly negative impact on the economy. In recently filed comments, industry groups outline a number of criticisms. They could be considering a lawsuit or asking lawmakers to intervene. EPA has proposed maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for area source and larger major source industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and new source performance standards (NSPS) for commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators. EPA has also proposed a new definition of non-hazardous solid waste for the purposes of determining whether facilities that burn waste trigger the boiler or incinerator rules.

Several of the groups argue that the rules as proposed are unachievable, violating a key requirement of the Clean Air Act that rules be feasible to meet. The Council of Industrial Boiler Owners (CIBO) commented that EPA made "misjudgments and incorrect assumptions" when setting the so-called MACT "floors," or minimum standards for each subcategory of boiler established by EPA. EPA has therefore produced unrealistic MACT floors, which many boilers cannot meet, CIBO says. EPA failed to take into account the huge variability of boiler fuels, which range from oils to gas, coal and biomass, and also the highly varied modes of operation of industrial boilers; unlike power plants, they do not operate at a relatively constant rate. EPA is using a pollutant-by-pollutant approach that sets limits for the maximum achievable pollution reductions for individual pollutants, but ignores the fact that no actual boiler in existence can meet those limits, industry groups argue. Industry alsocontends that EPA methodology is flawed because the data is drawn from a very small number of units.

The biomass industry is also concerned that the proposed boiler MACT "would be harmful to the nation's entire renewable energy sector and decrease the likelihood that the nation will meet its stringent renewable energy goals," says an Aug. 25 statement by the Biomass Power Association. The rule "would drastically and unfairly increase emissions standards for biomass facilities . . . possibly causing many plants to shut down," the statement adds.

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