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EPA Retreats on Boiler MACT Rules

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

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Manufacturers are declaring victory after the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement that it would indefinitely defer implementing controversial air quality standards for boilers and some solid waste incinerators.

EPA has announced that it will be “seeking additional public feedback and gathering more information” on the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Major Sources: Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Boilers, and Process Heaters it announced in February.

The new deadline for comments is July 15, 2011.

EPA also said it would reconsider some of the standards and stay the rules’ effective date for major source boilers and commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators. The standards cover more than 200,000 boilers and incinerators that emit harmful air pollution, including mercury, cadmium, and particle pollution.

‘A Significant Victory’

The National Association of Manufacturers, which had vigorously opposed the standards, called EPA’s announcements “a significant victory” and said it would continue to push EPA to rescind the rules altogether.

The American Coatings Association (ACA), which represents coatings manufacturers, also opposes the proposal.

In retreating from the plan, EPA cited the need for more consideration of public comments and noted President Obama’s Jan. 18 Executive Order to federal agencies to streamline their standards.

Indeed, EPA’s original April 2010 emission proposal sparked a firestorm in the business sector and communities nationwide, with more than 4,800 public comments filed—including, EPA says, “a significant amount of information that industry had not provided prior to the proposals.”

Revisions Continue

EPA worked to revise the standards but, in December, requested more time for the task. The agency is under a court order in a lawsuit by the Sierra Club to issue a final rule on the topic.

EPA then issued the February rules but again sought more time for review. Comments on the proposal will now be due July 15.

Boiler and incinerator regulations are closely related because similar units may be considered boilers or incinerators, based on whether or not they burn solid waste materials. EPA is also finalizing which non-hazardous secondary materials, would be considered solid waste and which would be considered fuel. This distinction would determine whether a material can be burned in a boiler or whether it must be burned in an incinerator. 

Coatings Industry Watches

Coatings manufacturers are among those keeping a close eye on the debate.

In August 2010, ACA submitted extensive, critical comments on the original proposal. The association contended that EPA used a biased dataset, insufficient data, and flawed methodology to set the so-called Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) floors.

ACA also urged EPA to use a source approach, not a pollutant-by-pollutant approach, to ensure achievable limits.

Finally, ACA questioned EPA's energy assessments and its proposed requirement for facilities to document energy savings.

Online Compliance Tool

As the debate continues, however, ACA has sought to help its members with compliance. The group has partnered with Dixon Environmental, a compliance consulting company, to develop a free online compliance tool to aid manufacturing facilities in fulfilling their regulatory obligations under the Boiler MACT.

The interactive website for both major and area (minor) HAP sources allows users to input their facility data and assess their equipment requirements.

The tool makes the regulatory compliance scheme far easier to navigate, ACA says. Industry users can access the site, enter their information, and obtain an applicability determination and initial compliance assessment—all for no charge. The initial focus is on the Industrial Commercial and Institutional (ICI) Boiler GACT (minor) and MACT (major).

In addition to the free applicability assessments that can be updated as rules change in the future, and the free compliance tools including templates for initial notifications, Dixon is offering complementary compliance webinars. More information is available from


Tagged categories: Air quality; American Coatings Association (ACA); Coatings manufacturers; EPA; Regulations

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