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Too Much MACT

I have written so many MACT-related articles lately, I’ve been dreaming about it. The Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules have been a headache for the biomass power industry and, I suspect, for the U.S. EPA.
By Lisa Gibson | June 30, 2011

I have written so many MACT-related articles lately, I’ve been dreaming about it. The Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules have been a headache for the biomass power industry and, I suspect, for the U.S. EPA.

Draft after draft, complaint after complaint, the rules were rammed through seemingly reluctantly even on the part of the EPA, and still linger in legislative limbo. After an extension denial, the “final” version of the rules—defining solid waste, as well as controlling pollutants from major and area source industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and process heaters; commercial and solid waste incinerators; and sewage sludge incinerators—was released in February, with the guarantee of a reconsideration period. The rules were effective in May.

Well, sort of. See, responding to a petition from multiple organizations and industries, the EPA in May placed a stay on the standards for major source boilers, as well as commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators. Other letters that have crossed my desk also ask the EPA to amend the rules, making the standards more achievable and affordable. More recently, a bipartisan group of eight Congress members introduced an act June 22 calling for additional time to be devoted to addressing difficult technical issues and “develop rules that are workable in the real world.”

Meanwhile, the EPA announced June 28 that the reconsideration period it promised simultaneously with the release of the “final” rules in February will extend until October. And yes, the rules could be changed even further if comments submitted during that time warrant it. The deadline for that set of “final” rules is April 2012.

Ugh. I’ve been pulling my hair out.

Still, I have to take into account that so much uncertainty could be quasi-positive, but only when considering how damaging the current rules are to the biomass power industry, as explained frequently by the Biomass Power Association. And not just the biomass power industry, but others whose leadership organizations have played pivotal roles in the continuous calls for change, such as the American Forest & Paper Association.

The EPA realizes the enormous task on its plate, as evidenced by its extension request, reconsideration period and openness to discussion and necessary change. How heartbreaking it would be if this rigmarole still ultimately ended with the implementation of unrealistic rules, damaging to a variety of job-creating industries.

 

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