Senators express concern over boiler MACT final rule


Posted September 28, 2010,at 12:01 p.m. CST

Forty-one U.S. Senators sent a letter to the U.S. EPA Sept. 28 regarding its proposed so-called Industrial Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule. The Senators, who represent 27 states, requested the EPA to consider jobs and the economy before passing the rule, which would require biomass boilers to meet unreachable emissions standards.

"Biomass power provides nearly half of the nation's renewable energy. It is extremely encouraging that so many U.S. Senators, under the leadership of Sen. [Mary] Landrieu [D-La.] and Sen. [Susan] Collins, [R-Maine] are voicing their concerns about the danger of passing the proposed MACT rule, both to the renewable energy industry and the wider economy," said Bob Cleaves, President and CEO of the Biomass Power Association. "This rule could put thousands of Americans who work at biomass facilities out of jobs, and could possibly threaten the entire industry's existence. We hope the EPA will reconsider its proposed rule."

In the letter, the Senators point to "the significant economic impacts of the proposed rule," particularly for small business. They also express concern over the future of the biomass industry if the rule is passed, stating, "While we support efforts to address serious health threats from air emissions, we also believe that regulations can be crafted in a balanced way that sustains both the environment and jobs." The Senators recommend that the EPA "use a method to set emissions standards that are based on what real-world best performing units actually can achieve."

Biomass power is a $1 billion renewable energy industry with 80 facilities in 20 states and provides over 14,000 jobs nationwide. Biomass utilizes wood waste materials- paper and furniture industry byproducts and forest floor debris, for example-as fuel for clean energy. Power plants are predominately located in rural communities, creating thousands of jobs and producing millions in revenue for small towns. Biomass power is a clean and abundant source of electricity that will allow states to pursue even more aggressive goals for increasing their use of renewable energy in the future.