EPA proposes to amend regulations for certain industrial boilers
The U.S. EPA on July 9 released a proposed rule that aims to amend emission standards for certain categories of boilers based on the maximum achievable control technologies (MACT). The American Wood Council said it is encouraged by the clarity the rule provides.
The rule, referred as the Boiler MACT, proposes to amend the 2013 national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP) for industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and process heaters. The agency said the amendments would further reduce toxic emission from certain types of units and represent continued clean air progress.
According to the EPA, the proposed amendments included in the rulemaking are EPA’s response to three remands issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit—two in 2016 in U.S. Sugar Corp. v EPA and one in 2018 in Sierra Club, et al. v. EPA.
In the 2016 case, the court ruled that EPA improperly excluded certain sources from consideration when calculating the MACT floor emission limits. To satisfy that remand, the EPA is proposing to recalculate 34 of 90 emission limits for certain types of new and existing boilers. Serveral types of new and existing biomass boilers are among those impacted.
To satisfy the remaining two remands, the EPA said the proposed rule provides the court with further explanation. According to the EPA, these explanations provide an updated rationale for using carbon monoxide as a surrogate for controlling organic hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and an updated rationale for the agency’s original determination that setting a carbon monoxide standard below 130 parts per million would not provide any additional HAP reduction.
The EPA said the proposed amendments would continue to reduce emissions of HAPs, including mercury, formaldehyde, benzene, and polycyclic organic matter.
The proposed rule applies to boilers, defined as combustion devices used to generate steam or hot water for on-site use in certain industrial plant operations. The EPA estimates that there are approximately 444 boilers subject to the emission standards being revised. Of those 444 boilers, the agency estimates 33 would need to take steps to further reduce emissions.
“The wood products industry has been needing final clarity on Boiler MACT since the courts directed EPA to relook at a few aspects of its 2013 rules,” said Robert Glowinski, president and CEO of the AWC. “AWC appreciates that EPA has reaffirmed parts of the original rule and made reasonable adjustments to emission limits for biomass boilers, used extensively by the wood products industry. Our member companies need regulatory certainty to complete their compliance planning and this proposal confirms that the hundreds of millions of dollars already invested in pollution controls are largely sufficient.
“Using these boilers, wood product manufacturers produce about 75 percent of their own energy through the use of carbon neutral biomass that displaces the need for fossil fuels,” he said. “This proposed rule will allow mills to minimize costly additional retrofits of existing biomass boilers. The proposal has confirmed that significant compliance investments already made by the wood products industry are sufficient and the industry can move on to other priorities and opportunities.
“AWC is looking forward to reviewing EPA’s docket and providing input during the comment period,” Glowinski continued.
A 60-day public comment period is scheduled to open following publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register. Additional information is available on the EPA website.