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ERA's Environmental Compliance Management Blog

Boiler MACT Rules: Role of EPA Called into Question

Posted by Alex Chamberlain

Alex Chamberlain is a writer for ERA Environmental Management Solutions.

Politicians and industry advocates respond to EPA's Boiler MACT rules

EPA's Boiler MACTThe U.S. EPA has received a lot of attention in the past few months after the publication of the new Boiler MACT regulations in the Federal Register in March 21, 2011. While some environmentalist are praising the wide-reaching changes, industry advocates and some right-wing politicians are critical of EPA’s role in the U.S economy.

In response to the latest MACT regulations, a bipartisan bill, “The EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011” was introduced into the U.S. senate. As part of the bill EPA would be granted 15 month extension to revise its MACT regulations, under the condition that the MACT standards be based on real-world sources, and that EPA impose the least burdensome regulator alternatives on to industry. As reported by eNewsUSA, Republican senator Susan Collins said of the bill:

 “The EPA performs vital functions to protect public health[...] we need however, to make sure that as the EPA issues new regulations, it does not create so many roadblocks to economic growth that it discourages private investment, which is the key to maintaining and creating jobs. [...] Our legislation provides common sense solutions to the challenges the EPA is facing in attempting to implement these complicated rules, which if written without proper data, analysis, and consideration would cost the industry billions of dollars and potentially thousands of jobs.”

Democratic senator Ron Wyden also critiques the EPA ruling:

“EPA itself has admitted that its boiler rules need to be fixed. As they are written now, the rules will stymie the burgeoning biomass energy industry and make it very difficult for existing lumber and wood products mills to operate.”

As the United States edges closer to choosing the candidates for the next presidential election, EPA has become a major talking point of political debate. The need for the EPA is being called in to question by republican hopefuls who claim that the agency represents big government control over industry. They blame environmental regulation as the driving force behind the dragging U.S. economy, arguing that more lenient regulations overseas is taking away local jobs. 

Industry interest groups are also voicing their dissent. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy released a press statement that “the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Boiler MACT proposal is a costly and burdensome regulation that is unrealistic and threatens thousands of jobs during a time of record unemployment.” Industry studies have estimated the cost of the Boiler MACT regulations to be a loss of anywhere from 40,000 to 60,000 jobs and nearly $20 billion, more than double the price tag calculated by EPA. Critics of these studies counter that these figures do not take in to account the billions of dollars in costs that the healthcare industry will save, not to mention the fact that jobs in the green energy industry are growing.

Voices of Dissent Not Always the Whole Picture

While it is easy to view the new Boiler MACT rules and the EPA itself as roadblocks to industry success, it must be remembered that the U.S EPA plays a vital role in preserving the health of Americans, ensuring the cleanliness of the air, and giving a voice to those that cannot speak for themselves in the face of industrial growth. EPA has estimated that for every $1 spent to cut Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) under the new Boiler MACT rule, the public will see $10 - $24 in health benefits.

The latest Boiler MACT regulations have sparked some controversy, but EPA is working alongside industry to create achievable and mutually beneficial rules that will not hamper economic stability nor leave air emissions unchecked.  

You can learn more about the latest Boiler MACT regulations, including compliance information and possible future revisions, and how they apply to your business by downloading ERA’s free whitepaper “A Guide to the Latest Boiler MACT Regulations”.

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Topics: Sustainability, Environmental Compliance & Data Management