EPA Seeks More Time to Evaluate Standards for New Boiler MACT Rule

Dec. 8, 2010 - In a motion filed yesterday in the federal District Court for the District of Columbia, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked for an extension in the current court-ordered schedule for issuing its Maximum Achievable Control Technology rule for industrial boilers (Boiler MACT), which proposes to reduce potentially harmful air emissions from large and small boilers and solid waste incinerators.

EPA said 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.

"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," McCarthy added.

EPA's original Boiler MACT rule proposal was met with heavy critisism from industry groups who charged that the new rule created excessive air regulations and would have a devastating impact on manufacturing jobs across the country, specifically in the pulp and paper industry.

Donna Harman, president of the American Forest & Paper Association, said, "“We welcome EPA’s decision to take more time to evaluate the data that will support a Boiler MACT rule that puts “Achievability” back in MACT.

"Last week’s disappointing jobs numbers underscore the urgency for the country to find a path forward on environmental regulations that will support existing jobs and new job creation," Harman noted.

According to Harman, AF&PA submitted more than 500 pages of comments on the proposed rule, detailing the issues of concern and offering alternative approaches to protect the environment and support jobs.

“We support EPA’s decision to ask the court for 15 more months to re-propose the Boiler MACT rule and make a thorough assessment of the data. I am hopeful the EPA has heard the concerns with the aspects of the initially proposed rule and that the revised rule will be written with an eye toward U.S. competitiveness,” Harman said.

BACKGROUND

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 said that it believes it is appropriate to issue a revised proposal that reflects the new data and allows for additional public comment.

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.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) is the national trade association of the forest products industry, representing pulp, paper, packaging and wood products manufacturers, and forest landowners. Our companies make products essential for everyday life from renewable and recyclable resources that sustain the environment. The forest products industry accounts for approximately 5 percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP. Industry companies produce about $175 billion in products annually and employ nearly 900,000 men and women, exceeding employment levels in the automotive, chemicals and plastics industries. The industry meets a payroll of approximately $50 billion and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 48 states.

SOURCE: EPA and AF&PA

See related stories:
Fifty Industry Associations Sign Letter to EPA Chief About Concern Over Boiler Mact Rule (11/16/2010)

New Study Shows Major Manufacturing Job Losses Likely from Excessive Air Regulations (8/31/2010)