WASHINGTON — Wood industry and biomass groups are cautiously lauding the Environmental Protection Agency’s revising of standards to reduce hazardous air pollutant emissions from existing and new boilers and commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators.

EPA Revises Boiler MACT RulesRevisions in the new rules, released Friday, reduce the compliance costs for maximum achievable control technology (MACT) on the equipment — a point of contention in the April 2010 standard. The new standards are approximately 50 percent less costly than in the original proposal, while still meeting the requirements laid out in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, according to the EPA. Also critical in the revision, particularly for wood products firms, is the change in the definition of Non-Hazardous Secondary Material (NHSM). In the new standard, resinated wood is now designated as “not a solid waste material when used as a fuel regardless of whether it remained within the control of the generator.”

The EPA said it will finalize the reconsideration in spring 2012, following 60 days for public comment.

“Our nation’s economy needs regulations that protect the environment while sustaining American manufacturing jobs,” said Donna Harman, president and CEO of the American Forest & Paper Assn. “EPA’s reconsideration is an important step toward writing a more reasonable set of regulations after being forced by the courts to finalize rules in March, which the Agency itself recognized as flawed.”

EPA's revised changes for boilers include additional subcategories, new emission limits and increased flexibility in compliance monitoring for meeting particle pollution and carbon monoxide limits. The agency has also revised emission limits on incinerators, including those for dioxin and mercury.   

In a statement, Randy Rawson, president and CEO of the American Boiler Manufacturers Assn. said, “There appears to be nothing in [the] EPA proposals that cannot be handled in a timely and cost-effective way by the types of existing, state-of-the-art, technologically-advanced and fuel-flexible products and equipment supplied by the U. S. boiler manufacturing industry, in combination with innovatively-engineered applications.

“EPA is to be commended in its efforts to listen and to be responsive to those affected by these rules – both the regulated entities and the equipment suppliers – and to leave the door open for even further modifications if technically warranted. The agency has apparently heard the concerns of those impacted by the original ICI Boiler MACT rules and has adjusted and re-adjusted their rules’ requirements in a way that few, if any, of the vast majority should have trouble cost-effectively meeting,” Rawson added.

“We are pleased that the EPA’s revised standards look to achieve major public health benefits while further adjusting the rules to meet real world boiler operating conditions,” said Joseph Seymour, executive director of the Biomass Thermal Energy Council (BTEC).

“The new set of Boiler MACT and related rules set forth by the EPA are an important step toward a realistic and achievable boiler emissions mandate for the biomass industry. The changes indicate recognition by the EPA of the value of biomass, not only for the environment, but also for the economy. The new rules remove a number of provisions that, by the Agency’s own admission, were flawed,” said Bob Cleaves, Biomass Power Assn. president and CEO.

According to BPA, biomass power is a $1 billion industry, comprised of 80 facilities in 20 states.

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