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ERA's Environmental Compliance Management Blog

Boiler MACT Summary: Attack of the Franken Boiler?

Posted by Alex Chamberlain

Alex Chamberlain is a writer for ERA Environmental Management Solutions.

EPA's methodology for determining Boiler MACT rules come under fire

When the U.S. EPA released its proposed Boiler MACT regulations in June 2010, it was met with frustration and controversy. EPA was flooded with comments and critiques from industrial groups and fuel industry advocates in decrying the methodology for calculating the new Boiler MACT regulations. They claim that the data wasn't taken from real-world sources, but instead was based on a fictional, best-case scenario. Is industry really under attack by the "Franken Boiler"?

Boiler MACT Franken Boiler

Franken Boiler?

Overall, the critics have claimed that EPA used a hypothetical boiler to set MACT standards rather than real-world sources, arguing that:

  • EPA's method of selecting the top 12% of existing sources was flawed and produced unrealistic limits. These limits therefore are based on the best selection across all types of sources and do not reflect the performance of real-world sources.

  • The limits did not take different fuel types in to account, and were instead set by a MACT floor calculation for each pollutant. This result does not necessarily reflect the best performing boilers for any one fuel source, but rather a combination of many different fuels. 

Critics have dubbed this hypothetical boiler the "Franken Boiler", and it has become a point of great contention in both industry and the political sphere. Industry groups are worried that the latest MACT standards are unachievable, and will hamper their economic growth.

The "Franken Boiler" issue has also caught the attention of the government. In July 2011, a bipartisan bill was introduced in to the senate to grant EPA an extension to complete its reconsiderations and to extend the compliance deadlines for industry from 3 years to 5 years, all on the condition that EPA ensure that its MACT standards are based on real-world sources. The hope is that this extra time for both EPA and industry will assuage public concern and do no harm to the economy.

EPA Responds

EPA has already announced that it will take several of the most recently published Boiler MACT regulations into reconsideration in the wake of this outpouring of public commentary. It has officially delayed the effective date of the major source Boiler MACT regulations and process heater regulations, published in February 2011, until the reconsiderations are complete or until the judicial proceedings to approve March 2011's standards ends. However, EPA denies that its methodology was flawed, and that the reconsiderations are a result of the influx of new data and perspectives supplied by the public's commentary.

They are scheduled to release a proposal of the newly revised ruling at the end of October 2011, with the intent of having a finalized publication by the end of April 2012.

It is yet unclear to what extent, if any, the EPA's revisions will calm fears about the "Franken Boiler" problem. 

Where Do You Stand?

Regardless of where you stand on the "Franken Boiler" issue, your business or facility is potentially going to be affected by the EPA's pending reconsiderations.

If you use any area or major source boilers in your manufacturing process, the way you report and comply with MACT regulations could soon change. Are you as prepared as you could be?

You can learn more about the latest Boiler MACT regulations and how they affect your business by downloading our free guide.

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Topics: Sustainability, Environmental Compliance & Data Management