WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) is delaying enforcement of its controversial MACT Boiler and solid waste incineration (CISWI) rules, allowing the acceptance of additional public comments through July 15.
"These additional opportunities for public input will ensure that any final standard will be informed by input and feedback from key stakeholders, including the public, industry, and public health communities," the EPA said in a press release.
The news was welcomed by the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) and other groups that banned together to petition the EPA to postpone the new rules governing emissions from industrial boilers and solid waste incinerators because they believed the rules contained too many flaws. Among other things, the rules would impact wood products companies that burn their sawdust and wood waste to fuel boilers to heat their plants or dry kilns.
Donna Hartman, CEO of the AF&PA, said, "These rules have been plagued from the outset by inadequate information and analysis as to the potential effects on the businesses, municipalities, universities, hospitals and other institutions that operate boilers... We appreciate EPA’s prompt response to the request from 18 organizations to stay the rules, and we plan to fully engage in the reconsideration process to help make these rules more achievable. In addition, we will also continue to work with Members of Congress on legislation this year to address our concerns with this rule and to reduce the serious business uncertainty created by the rules.”
As part of the reconsideration process, EPA said it will pay close attention to both costs and benefits, consistent with President Barack Obama's directives with respect to regulations issued on January 18.
Since proposing the rules in April 2010, EPA has fielded more than 4,800 comments from businesses and communities, including a significant amount of information that industry had not provided prior to the proposals. Based on this input, EPA made extensive revisions to the standards, and in December 2010 requested additional time for review to ensure the public’s input was fully addressed.
The court only granted EPA 30 days, resulting in the February 2011 final rules. EPA said it is reconsidering the standards because the public did not have sufficient opportunity to comment on these changes, and, as a result, further public review and feedback is needed.
“Businesses need certainty to operate and plan for compliance, and these rules still must undergo significant changes to make them technically achievable and to ensure the President’s directive to find the most cost-effective method of regulating that is consistent with the law," Hartman said. A" stay of the rules is an important first step and will give the Administration another opportunity to take into account the job-destructive aspects of the rules issued in February. Ultimately, we believe legislation will be necessary to give EPA the full amount of time they requested and were denied by the Court."
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