EPA Asks Court for More Time on Boiler and Incinerator Rules

Date: December 7, 2010

Source: US EPA and News Room

Under intensifying fire from industry, the US EPA has asked a federal court for more time to finalize its regulation of emissions from boilers and solid waste incinerators. The EPA said it asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for permission to issue the rules by April 2012. Currently, it is under a court order to issue the rules by next month. Recent analysis earlier this month by the Department of Commerce (DOC) predicts job losses of 40,000 to 60,000 per year stemming from prohibitively high costs of compliance with the rule as proposed. The DOC report said facility closures and a decline in the international competitiveness of U.S. goods would be responsible. The boiler rule, which is intended to cut emissions of mercury, soot and other pollutants that it says are linked with developmental disabilities in children, asthma, and heart attacks, sets maximum achievable control technology (MACT) requirements to reduce air toxics emissions from boilers that are large enough to qualify as "major sources" of air toxics as required under the Clean Air Act. The boiler MACT proposal is part of a suite of rules to control emissions from boilers, including an air toxics rule for smaller "area" sources of emissions, an air toxics rule for incinerators, and rule that defines solid waste to determine whether sources are subject to boiler rules or more-stringent incinerator rules. Following complaints from members of Congress as well as several industry groups, the EPA recently offered concessions including "subcategorizing" boilers to a set of varying air toxics standards depending on the type of boiler.

The EPA had proposed the regulations in April 2010, and said that comments it received "shed new light on a number of key areas." As a result, "it is appropriate to issue a revised proposal" the EPA said.

"We're encouraged that EPA is taking the time needed to develop an effective, achievable final rule," said Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council, in a statement. "We hope the court grants EPA's request for more time to work on these complex regulations that will affect large industries and small businesses across the country."

See also: "Commerce Department Predicts Huge Job Losses from EPA Boiler Rule," (www.wasteinfo.com/news/wbj20101116E.htm).

See also: "Industry Still Critical of EPA Boiler Rule despite Concessions," (www.wasteinfo.com/news/wbj20101026B.htm).

See also: "EPA Likely to Offer Concessions on Final Air Toxics Rule for Boilers," (www.wasteinfo.com/news/wbj20101012A.htm).

See also: "Labor Group Joins Opposition to EPA Boiler MACT Plan," (www.wasteinfo.com/news/wbj20100928D.htm).

See also: "Industry Critical of EPA Boiler and Incinerator Rules," (www.wasteinfo.com/news/wbj20100915C.htm).

See also: "Activists and Industry Critical of EPA Definition of Solid Waste Rule," (www.wasteinfo.com/news/wbj20100817C.htm).


December 7, 2010

EPA Seeks New Timetable for Reducing Pollution from Boilers and Incinerators

  • Agency committed to developing rules that are protective, cost effective and based on sound science

WASHINGTON In a motion filed today in the federal District Court for the District of Columbia, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking an extension in the current court-ordered schedule for issuing rules that would reduce harmful air emissions from large and small boilers and solid waste incinerators. The additional time is needed for the agency to re-propose the rules based on a full assessment of information received since the rules were proposed. The rules would cut emissions of harmful pollutants, including mercury and soot, which cause a range of health effects from developmental disabilities in children to cancer, heart disease and premature death.

"After receiving additional data through the extensive public comment period, EPA is requesting more time to develop these important rules," said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "We want to ensure these rules are practical to implement and protect all Americans from dangerous pollutants such as mercury and soot, which affect kids' development, aggravate asthma and cause heart attacks."

In order to meet a court order requiring the EPA to issue final rules in January 2011, the agency proposed standards in April 2010. While EPA requested and received some information from industry before the proposal, the comments EPA received following the proposal shed new light on a number of key areas, including the scope and coverage of the rules and the way to categorize the various boiler-types. Industry groups and others offered this information during the public comment period after EPA proposed the rule. After reviewing the data and the more than 4,800 public comments, the agency believes it is appropriate to issue a revised proposal that reflects the new data and allows for additional public comment. This approach is essential to meeting the agency's legal obligations under the Clean Air Act and, as a result, provides the surest path to protecting human health and the environment.

EPA has estimated that there are more than 200,000 boilers operating in industrial facilities, commercial buildings, hotels and universities located in highly populated areas and communities across the country. EPA has estimated that for every $5 spent on reducing these pollutants, the public will see $12 in health and other benefits.

EPA is under a current court order to issue final rules on January 16, 2011 and is seeking in its motion to the court to extend the schedule to finalize the rules by April 2012.

More information: www.epa.gov/airquality/combustion.

Enesta Jones (News Media only)

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