Wednesday, 26 October 2011 14:54

House Passes EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011 Would Delay Finalized Boiler Rules for 15 Months

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that delays for 15 months toxic air standards for industrial boilers. H.R. 2250, the EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011, aims to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs by providing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with additional time to reconsider and improve proposed boiler rules. In addition, this will extend the time period for the industry to comply with these rules.

The proposal, which directs the EPA to develop achievable standards affecting non-utility boilers and incinerators, and grants additional time for compliance with the rules, was offered in response to an influx of urgent calls from small and large employers. Economic analyses have projected that compliance with the rules, as currently proposed, could cost in excess of $14 billion, which places more than 200,000 jobs at risk. The impact of the postponement essentially ensures that businesses do not have to comply with the rule until the EPA pursues further public comment and issues a new and final regulation.

According to the EPA, the delay of the implementation of the regulation is another setback for a rule that will prevent thousands of health conditions such asthma, as well as heart attacks. However, the agency said “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, the industry and public-health communities.”

The EPA has estimated there are more than 200,000 boilers operating in industrial facilities, commercial buildings, hotels and universities located in highly populated areas and communities across the country. The EPA has estimated that for every $5 spent on reducing these pollutants, the public will see $12 in health and other benefits.
Under current law, both on- and off-specification used oil can be recycled through use as fuel in boilers, industrial furnaces and space heaters. Approximately 113 million gallons is used for heating purposes by approximately 100,000 small businesses across the U.S. in used-oil fired space heaters per year.
If the proposed rule is finalized, and off-specification used oil cannot be recycled as fuel, automotive maintenance facilities will have to test any used oil they collect from the public to determine if it meets specifications. If that happens, automotive maintenance facilities across the country could simply stop accepting “DIY” used oil, and as a result, much of the used oil that has been safely burned for heat in boilers and space heaters for many years could end up entering our water supply after being poured down a drain or on the soil.
As part of a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the EPA has set an April 2012 deadline for issuing updated and modified air toxics standards for boilers and certain solid waste incinerators.
The Senate is unlikely to take up the boiler issue, despite the fact that bipartisan groups of senators have introduced companion bills. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who is leading the way on the boiler bill, will likely try to include her bill in any omnibus measure Congress must pass by Nov. 18.
To view further information, including full text of the EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011, as well as detailed information regarding the EPA’s currently proposed rules and timeline for reconsideration and issuance of new boiler rules, visit ASA’s legislative website at www.TakingTheHill.com.