EPA Cools Its Rush to Overregulate Boilers, Biomass Industry

By December 9, 2010Energy, Regulations

The National Association of Manufacturers issued a statement Wednesday welcoming the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to ask a federal court for a 15-month extension to enact proposed rules on emissions from industrial boilers.

The proposed rule would have a huge impact across the manufacturing economy, with the forest products industry being especially worried. Mills make extensive of industrial boilers and process heaters to efficiently use waste products and generate power for their operations.

In September, 41 U.S. Senators sent a letter to EPA Adminstrator Lisa Jackson emphasizing those concerns. Excerpt:

[The] impact will be substantial to small businesses, such as sawmills, which have large boilers. In addition, EPA has concluded that no additional large biomass fired boilers will be built in the United States, indicating the cessation of the domestic biomass industry. As a result, we are rightly concerned that the proposed standards appear to create serious obstacles to the development of biomass energy projects, which have the potential to significantly reduce air pollution and production of greenhouse gases. Further, we are concerned that if adopted as currently proposed, the MACT rules would discourage the current use of wood biomass in wood, pulp and paper facilities, and most likely result in significant job losses in these industries. While we support efforts to address serious health threats from air emissions, we also believe that regulations can be created in a balanced way that sustains both the environment and the jobs.

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) today commended the EPA’s decision and indicated the issue was ripe for oversight hearings in the 112th Congress:

This is the worst possible time for new job-killing regulations that make it harder for business to grow and for the economy to recover. The EPA is doing the right thing by delaying these ill-advised rules. Now that the EPA has realized the negative impacts of moving forward, I hope the EPA works with the bipartisan coalition in Congress that is ready and willing to help identify solutions that protect the environment and public health while not destroying jobs at the same time.

These sorts of rule writings are exactly what we need to perform greater oversight on in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Could it be that the EPA — or more likely, White House officials — has figured out that increased regulation can discourage investment and job creation just as much as increased taxes can? One would hope.

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