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The Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules have been proposed, released, rereleased, revised and reconsidered. And it’s getting ridiculous.
By Lisa Gibson | December 09, 2011

Let’s talk about MACT again.

The Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules have been proposed, released, rereleased, revised and reconsidered. And it’s getting ridiculous.

Although the crafting of these rules has drawn on in a series of tremendously irritating and frustrating events, it seems each new revision of the rules is leaning a bit more in biomass power’s favor.

That’s great news because as most of us know, the first set proposed in April 2010 would have been detrimental to the biomass industry. So, we’re getting closer to a set of standards our industry can comfortably adopt.

The U.S. EPA, undoubtedly equally frustrated with this process, released yet another revision for certain boilers and incinerators Dec. 2, replacing emission limits for dioxin with work practice standards. Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste & Emergency Response, said the change is a result of a new and more robust analysis showing dioxin emissions from some boilers are below what can accurately be detected. Great. Keep those robust analyses coming. 

The new revision also refines the distinction between solid waste and fuel, a classification that the biomass power industry has struggled with, trying to convince rule makers that it does not use incinerators. Its fuel, therefore, should not be considered solid waste and should fall under the more easily met fuel standards.

As major players in our industry, such as Bob Cleaves, president of the Biomass Power Association, and Joseph Seymour, executive director of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, digest this most recent revision, we’ll find out more about the impacts it will have on our industry.

The fact that the EPA continues to study and revise its rules to accommodate the biomass industry, among others, is a very promising sign. These rules will be a staple of operations in the biomass industry and must be written properly.

So, through the proposals, rereleases, requests for extensions, extension denials, revisions, reconsiderations, (what other aggravating steps in this process am I missing here?) and legislative limbo, I’m trying to remind myself we’re inching forward. But, I can’t stop myself from wondering when we’ll be able to jump ahead a few feet.

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