WASHINGTON -- Implementation of the controversial federal MACT Boiler rule would be delayed pending approval of a Senate bill introduced July 21 and a similar bill introduced previously in the House.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who expressed concern that implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency's rule limiting emissions from industrial boilers would be detrimental to businesses, including those that burn wood.

The bill would provide the EPA with 15 additional months to study the issues and develop a final rule. It would also provide businesses five years instead of three to comply.

In a press release, Collins said the bill would, "direct EPA to ensure that the new rules are achievable by real-world" boilers and "impose the least burdensome regulator alternatives."

While the EPA contended that compliance of the original rule would cost U.S. businesses approximately $10 billion for industries nationwide, industry has contended that it would cost as much as twice that amount.

Last December, a federal court denied the EPA's request to earn additional time until April 2012 to reexamine and possibly amend its rule.

The Portland Press Herald reported that at a recent hearing, Collins cited the plight of Windham Millwork of Windham, ME. The 65-man architectural woodwork company told her that it had recently spent $300,000 on a wood-waste boiler to supplant fossil fuels to heat its plant. Under the current EPA MACT Boiler rule, the company would have to purchase a new one and "for minuscule public benefit," Collins said.

Environmentalists say efforts to block or delay boiler emissions regulations overstate the costs to industry and allow harmful toxins such as mercury and lead to enter the air.

Posted by Rich Christianson

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.