EPA Publishes Final Package of Combustion Rules, Now Begin Legal Challenges

Date: March 21, 2011

Source: News Room

The EPA has published in the March 21 Federal Register its final package of combustion rules including maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards to cut air toxics from industrial boilers, which begins a 60-day period for challenges before they become effective on May 20. Widespread criticism of the rules is likely to lead to lawsuits from both industry and environmentalists who have actively criticized the rules especially the MACT for boilers that are "major" sources of air toxics and smaller "area" source boilers, and the other regulations. The suite of rules also includes new source performance standard (NSPS) to cut toxic emissions and other pollutants from solid waste incinerators, an NSPS for sewage sludge incinerators, and a rule defining non-hazardous solid waste, which determines whether facilities are subject to the boiler MACT or the NSPS. Environmentalists are likely to challenge key provisions of the boiler MACT and incinerator NSPS that allows sub-categorization, which sets varying emission standards based on the type of facility. On the other hand, Industry, Republicans and other critics warn that the proposed version of the boiler MACT would impose massive costs leading to thousands of job losses from a wide range of industries.

EPA faced an original Jan. 21 court-ordered deadline to sign the final rules, and in order to give itself time to revise the rules to account for industry's data asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to extend that deadline until April 2012. The court however rejected that request, setting the hard Feb. 21 deadline for the agency to sign the final rules. Even with the tight deadline, EPA made major changes to the boiler MACT that it says will cut compliance costs by half, but the fixes and EPA's plan to reconsider the rule failed to appease industry's cost concerns and critics vowed to weigh legal options to challenge the rule.

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