Bipartisan Bills to Delay EPA Air Rules Gaining Support

Date: September 23, 2011

Source: News Room

Some Democrats and activists are worried about bills with bipartisan support moving through Congress that would indefinitely delay boiler emissions rules, including EPA's maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for industrial boilers and related rules effecting units burning biomass. The Senate bill (S. 1392) to stall the boiler emissions rules and related rules, has the support of 10 Democrats led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). A similar House bill, H.R. 2250, would postpone compliance dates for the boiler and related emissions rules. That bill cleared a House Energy & Commerce Committee markup on Sept. 21 on a 36-14 vote, along with H.R. 2681, a bill that would delay compliance with EPA's final air toxics rule for cement plants, which passed on a 33-12 vote.

Among the legislation's opponents is Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who is chair of the Environment & Public Works Committee. She has been trying to resolve other Democrats' concerns over EPA's air toxics rules in an effort to persuade them to drop their support for the legislation which she and others believe would weaken the Clean Air Act (CAA).

EPA stayed the implementation of the boiler and incinerator air rules to make revisions to address what critics say are major flaws. In its recently updated "Action Initiation List" of new rulemakings launched in August, EPA says it intends to issue proposed revisions within 12 months or less -- consistent with its targets laid out in a June 24 federal district court brief of Oct. 31 for a proposed rule and April 30, 2102 for a final rule.

The bills as amended dictate that EPA finalize the boiler and cement rules exactly 15 months after the date the bill is enacted, and GOP members said the amendment would clarify the intent of the legislation and still provide a reasonable amount of time for the agency to propose and finalize the emissions rules. While offering support for the amendments, Democrats warned that numerous aspects of the bills still represent an attack on Clean Air Act standards and could mean the indefinite delay of facilities having to comply with the rules, even if EPA finalizes the rules.

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