Moving MACT Along
Although the U.S. EPA had already announced in February that it would allow a reconsideration period for certain aspects of the Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules, on June 24 the agency released a deadline for that reconsideration of October. Subsequently, final standards must be issued by April.
The final MACT rules were released in February, but EPA announced at that time it would have a reconsideration period in light of the overwhelming number of comments received pertaining to the April 2010 proposed rules, and the court’s denial of an extension for the EPA to issue the final rules. The agency had asked for either a six-or 15-month extension past its January final deadline, the latter allowing for a complete reproposal and another comment period. Instead, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit allowed just one month.
After the final standards were issued in February, multiple industry groups petitioned the agency to delay the effective date of standards for major source boiler and commercial industrial solid waste incinerators. In May, the EPA temporarily suspended those standards, but not standards for area source boilers. “The stay will remain in place until the proceedings for judicial review of these rules are completed or EPA completes its reconsideration of the standards, whichever is earlier,” an EPA spokesperson says.
If the reconsideration illuminates new issues, the EPA can make changes. The biomass power industry has had more than one contention with the rules, both proposed and final. While the final rules do eliminate numerical emission standards for some types of area source boilers, they decrease numeric emission standards in other areas, making them harder to comply with. In addition, the definition of solid waste is still concerning for some biomass developers, as falling under that category would mean much stricter standards.
The rules have been a controversial topic since their initial proposal and especially after the final was released. Elsewhere, legislators in the House and Senate are working on bills that would allow the EPA more time to develop meaningful and effective rules.