US chemicals warn that EPA boiler rule will kill jobs

12 October 2010 18:06  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US chemical manufacturers on Tuesday warned that federal environmental plans to force reductions in emissions by industrial boilers and production furnaces could jeopardise some 60,000 chemical sector jobs and should be amended.

In a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Lisa Jackson, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) welcomed some changes in the initial boiler emissions proposal but cautioned that further adjustments are needed or significant job losses would result.

ACC president Cal Dooley told Jackson that “we strongly believe further changes are needed to protect domestic manufacturers and the approximately 60,000 chemical industry jobs that are at stake in the proposal”.

Dooley was responding to a letter that Jackson had sent to a group of US senators - including 18 Democrats and 23 Republicans - that had raised an alarm about the agency’s new plans to limit emissions from industrial boilers and process heaters.

EPA proposed in April this year new rules under the Clean Air Act (CAA) that would require refiners, petrochemical and other industrial production facilities to install “maximum achievable control technologies” (MACT) to sharply reduce toxic air pollution by boilers and process heaters.

The proposed rule, known as “Boiler MACT”, also would apply to other facilities, such as major malls and other commercial buildings along with hospitals and universities that use large boilers.

The alarm raised by the 41 senators followed letters of concern from some 100 members of the House of Representatives.

Dooley said that in her letter to the senators, Jackson did make some needed adjustments to the proposed Boiler MACT rule but that serious and costly shortcomings remain.

“Your letter acknowledged deficiencies in the quality and quantity of data EPA relied upon to develop the proposed rule,” Dooley said.

He urged that the EPA take data provided by the council and other manufacturing interests to reconsider its plans.  He said that the “analysis on which the proposal was based should be re-examined and appropriate changes should be made in the proposed emissions limitations to ensure that the final rule is based on the best available science”.

Even after the adjustments that Jackson related to the senators are made, Dooley said, “the proposed emission limits for liquid- and gas-fired boilers are far beyond what is required to ensure hazardous air pollutant emissions are minimised”.

He also urged that the EPA give special consideration to periods when industrial boilers are in periods of start-up, shutdown or malfunctions.

Dooley said that the proposed Boiler MACT, as written, would cost the US chemicals sector some $3.8bn (€2.7bn) and put about 60,800 chemical jobs at risk.

The EPA said it did not expect to issue a final Boiler MACT rule until early next year.

($1 = €0.72)

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