MACT omitted from payroll tax cut bill

By Luke Geiver | February 21, 2012

A provision to grant the U.S. EPA more time to finalize and reevaluate the Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules for industrial boilers has been left out of the payroll tax cut extension bill that Congress has passed.

Some members of Congress pushed for inclusion of Boiler MACT text similar to the EPA Regulatory Relief Act, which would have granted the EPA more time to prepare a new rule. But the final version of the payroll tax cut bill did not act as the legislative vehicle many thought would ease the pressure on both the EPA and industrial boiler users.

Only two weeks before both the House and Senate passed their respective versions of the payroll tax cut legislation, Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., noted the potential job loss that would result without an extension for the EPA to craft achievable MACT rules. But Boozman also addressed the importance of a Boiler MACT fix based on its connection to biomass.

“In our state, the proposed Boiler MACT rules will especially harm employers with units that burn solid fuel such as biomass,” he said. “The Boiler MACT fix would help by stating materials like renewable biomass should remain classified as fuel and not reclassified as solid waste.

“We should be encouraging the use of renewable biomass, not discouraging it,” he continued. “Sending biomass to a landfill makes absolutely no sense when we can use its power for our industry and create jobs…The potential harm to renewable carbon neutral biomass is very bad for Arkansas.”

Boozman’s statements on the Senate floor regarding Boiler MACT came only weeks after a Washington D.C. district court judge vacated a stay on an EPA issued suspension of certain portions of the Boiler MACT rules. The EPA has since responded, stating that it is not aware of any sources that might be adversely affected by the judge’s decision, but will also issue a no action assurance letter to any source that is affected.

The President still has to sign off on the bill passed by the House and the Senate.