Key US House panel passes bill to alter, delay boiler rule

21 September 2011 20:28  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--A key US House committee on Wednesday approved a bill to postpone pending federal rules on industrial boiler emissions to late 2012 and give industry up to five years to comply with the requirement.

The bipartisan vote of 36-14 in the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved HR-2250, the “EPA Regulatory Relief Act”, and sent the measure to the full House, where it was expected to pass later this week or early next week.

The committee action was hailed by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) which, along with hundreds of other industry and manufacturing trade groups and stakeholders, had strongly opposed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed “Boiler MACT” rule.

Under the EPA proposal first issued in April 2010, chemical producers, other industrial or manufacturing plants and a wide variety of commercial facilities operating boilers, process heaters and incinerators would be required to impose “maximum achievable control technology” (MACT) to sharply reduce emissions of pollutants.

But the council and nearly 5,000 other industry organisations and interest groups voiced opposition to the Boiler MACT rule, arguing that it would impose huge costs on many facilities and force others to shut down, resulting in job losses across the nation.  As many as 200,000 industrial facilities were expected to be affected by the rule.

The bill would give EPA another 15 months to reformulate the Boiler MACT rule so that it would propose emissions reductions “that are achievable by real-world boilers, process heaters and incinerators”.

If approved by Congress and the White House within the next month or so, HR-2250 would postpone the Boiler MACT rule to December 2012.

The bill would also give industry five years to comply with the regulation when it is finally issued, compared with the three-year compliance timetable in the original proposal.

ACC president Cal Dooley welcomed the committee action, noting that the bill would give chemical producers and other industries “time to identify, budget for and implement the necessary changes to their facilities”.

Earlier this year, EPA had agreed to suspend action on the boiler rule while alternative language was under consideration by the agency and stakeholders, but lawsuits filed to force EPA to issue and implement the rule could ultimately be successful.

Consequently, Dooley said, the legislation approved by the committee is essential to ensuring that the rule can be modified and postponed and allow industry ample time to comply.

By: Joe Kamalick
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