Energy and Commerce Committee approves EPA Regulatory Relief Act

By Lisa Gibson | September 21, 2011

The EPA Regulatory Relief Act, legislation that would allow the U.S. EPA to improve its flawed Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules, has been approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The legislation would provide the EPA with at least 15 months to repropose the MACT rules for boilers, process heaters and incinerators; extend the compliance deadline from three to at least five years; direct EPA to adopt definitions allowing sources to use a wide range of alternative fuels; and direct EPA to ensure that the new rules are achievable by real-world boilers, process heaters and incinerators, and impose the least burdensome regulatory alternatives. 

“I commend Chairman Upton and the Energy and Commerce Committee’s action to protect American manufacturing jobs by voting in favor of this bill,” said Donna Harman, president and CEO of the American Forest & Paper Association. “Committee members demonstrated the kind of leadership workers need from their elected representatives at this critical time, further advancing the vision set forth by the original bipartisan group of co-sponsors in June.”

The rules encompass standards for four source categories—major source industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and process heaters; area source industrial, commercial and institutional boilers; commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators; and sewage sludge incinerators—as well as an updated definition of solid waste, crucial in determining which rules a technology will fall under.

The MACT rules have had a rocky past and were criticized as unrealistic and unnecessarily expensive by many industries and agencies through the entire process since the proposals were released in April 2010. Nearly 5,000 comments were submitted on those proposals, overwhelming the EPA and prompting it to request a 15-month extension past its January deadline for the final rules. The court denied the request and ordered the agency to release the final rules in 30 days. The final rules were released in February and published in the Federal Register on March 21, although the standards for major source boilers and commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators are currently suspended.

“The EPA Regulatory Relief Act provides a path forward to ensure an achievable rule will be adopted and implemented as soon as possible,” Harman said. “As our nation’s economy struggles to gain footing, bipartisan support for H.R. 2250 is an important step toward achieving these objectives.”