Boiler MACT: EPA's Request for More Time Makes Sense
The U.S. EPA has asked a federal judge for a 15-month extension for releasing the boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rules (see “EPA asks for boiler MACT rule extension” in this week’s newsletter).
These rules are intended to regulate hazardous air pollutants from commercial and industrial boilers and solid waste incinerators.
The EPA requested the delay so they could have more time to rework the standards proposed earlier this year, and to accept more comments.
Many in the biomass industry have criticized the rules saying they are unachievable, or that the cost of complying would drive companies out of business.
I understand that hazardous emissions need to be controlled for the sake of everyone’s health, but before businesses are shuttered and people are put out of work, we’d better make sure that boiler MACT is the best way to do it.
Based on what I’ve read about the rules, one of the objectives is to reduce mercury emissions. Although it’s been proven that mercury is dangerous to human health and we often see warnings about eating fish from bodies of water that have been found to contain high levels of mercury, the EPA hasn’t been able to prove that the rules they have proposed will actually reduce mercury emissions.
Even if the U.S. is able to significantly reduce mercury emissions that only translates to a miniscule reduction when you take into emissions from the rest of the world.
So do we just plunge ahead, hope that our actions make a difference and that the rest of the world follows our lead, or do we take the time to make sure that what we are doing will truly reduce hazardous emissions? I think the EPA in taking more time on this issue is doing the right thing.
In other news:
The Senate will be voting on a tax bill next week that would extend the start-of-construction deadline for the Section 1603 cash grant in lieu of tax credit program and the New Market Tax Credit program, both of which can be used to finance biomass projects (see “Proposed tax bill extends 1603 program” in this week’s newsletter).