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House subcommittee passes EPA Regulatory Relief Act

Tue, September 13, 2011 | BiomassMagazine.com

The EPA Regulatory Relief Act, which would allow additional time for the U.S. EPA to fix the Maximum Achievable Control Technology Rules, was approved Sept. 13 in the House Energy and Power Subcommittee.

The legislation would provide the EPA with at least 15 months to repropose the MACT rules for boilers, process heaters and incinerators; extend the compliance deadline from three to at least five years; direct EPA to adopt definitions allowing sources to use a wide range of alternative fuels; and direct EPA to ensure that the new rules are achievable by real-world boilers, process heaters and incinerators, and impose the least burdensome regulatory alternatives.

“I applaud the action taken by members of the Energy and Power Subcommittee today to protect manufacturing jobs in America,” said Donna Harman, president and CEO of the American Forest & Paper Association. “Members of the subcommittee displayed the kind of leadership workers need from their elected representatives in voting for the bill to be considered by the full Energy and Commerce Committee.”

The rules encompass standards for four source categories—major source industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and process heaters; area source industrial, commercial and institutional boilers; commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators; and sewage sludge incinerators—as well as an updated definition of solid waste, crucial in determining which rules a technology will fall under.

The MACT rules have had a rocky past and were criticized as unrealistic and unnecessarily expensive by many industries and agencies through the entire process since the proposals were released in April 2010. Nearly 5,000 comments were submitted on those proposals, overwhelming the EPA and prompting it to request a 15-month extension past its January deadline for the final rules. The court denied the request and ordered the agency to release the final rules in 30 days. The final rules were released in February and published in the Federal Register on March 21, although the standards for major source boilers and commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators are currently suspended.

“The EPA Regulatory Relief Act provides a path forward to the regulatory certainty that businesses need to invest and compete, allowing them to keep and create jobs here at home,” Harman said. “As our nation’s economy struggles with continuingly high-unemployment, we need regulations that are affordable, achievable and able to be implemented. Today’s bi-partisan support for H.R. 2250 is an important step forward to keeping American manufacturing competitive.”