Petition seeks a stay on Boiler MACT and CISWI rules

By Lisa Gibson | April 27, 2011

A coalition led by the American Forest & Paper Association is petitioning the U.S. EPA for a stay on its Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules, as well as its Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incinerator rules. The stay would temporarily stop the judicial proceedings in the rule making.

Without the stay, the rules, published to the federal register March 21, will be effective next month, according to AF&PA. With the release of the final rules in February, the EPA announced a reconsideration period for certain portions of the rules that would complicate that scheduled implementation. AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman said it’s apparent extensive changes to the rules are still needed, and businesses cannot plan effectively with such uncertainty.

The final 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 final is a much-improved version over the proposal released in April 2010, which caused a flurry of contention in the biomass industry over more than one troublesome issue.

But Bob Cleaves, president and CEO of the Biomass Power Association, is still concerned about some areas of the final rules and is involved in the push for a stay. “The Biomass Power Association supports the EPA’s own assertion that more time is needed to properly draft the proposed Boiler MACT and related rules and their potential consequences before they go into effect," he said. “As proposed, the rules stand to have a profoundly negative impact on several industries by increasing our costs for meeting new emissions standards without creating any public health or environmental benefits."

“The Boiler MACT and CISWI rules are interrelated, and businesses need adequate lead-time to prepare once the rules are indeed finalized,” Harman said. “A stay is a necessary first step to ensure that resources are spent where they will ultimately be needed to make the greatest difference and that companies will not lose compliance time during the continuing rulemaking.”

Within the request, the coalition includes detailed accounts from forest product companies showing the adverse effects that would befall the industry if any part of the three-year implementation period is taken up by EPA’s reconsideration, Harman said. If the rule is not stayed, hundreds of millions of dollars would be wasted designing a compliance plan for a rule that could become obsolete, she said, and precious compliance time could be lost.

“EPA has the authority to stay these rules, and we are asking it to exercise that authority,” Harman said., adding that the AF&PA’s current capital cost estimate for the forest products industry exceeds $4 billion, and concerns about achievability and cost are growing as technical experts delve deeper. 

An EPA spokeswoman said the agency has received the request and will give it prompt and serious consideration.