When the EPA Targets Boilers, Cement Manufacturing, Utilities

By April 15, 2011Energy, Regulations

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power is holding the fifth day of its hearing on “The American Energy Initiative” this morning focusing onrecent EPA rule makings on boilers, cement manufacturing plants and utilities.

In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield highlighted the impact on manufacturers of the EPA’s rules on industrial boilers, aka Boiler MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology):

Thousands of power plants and facilities depend on affordable energy from boilers. That includes paper mills, refineries, and chemical plants, schools and hospitals. Literally millions of jobs rely on affordable energy from these facilities, and those jobs are put at risk if those boilers can no longer be installed and run in a cost effective manner.

And where manufacturing is concerned, we live in a global economy and need to be mindful that regulations that disproportionately raise the cost of building and operating boilers in the U.S. may chase manufacturing activity and jobs overseas. And as is so often the case with EPA regulations, few if any other nations have any desire to go down the same costly path as with these new boiler regulations.

That is why EPA’s extremely stringent regulations are worrisome, especially given the state of the economy. And that is why easing compliance is so crucial to the economic recovery.

Among those testifying Dirk J. Krouskop, vice president for safety, health and environment at MeadWestvaco, the major packaging company. Krouskop also emphasized the economic impact of the Boiler MACT rules, of great concern to the forest products and paper industry, while detailing the many other regulations that have affected the industry’s growth and global competitiveness. From his written statement:

We know that the current wave of regulations is unsustainable. Living with such an uncertain regulatory environment not only costs current jobs, but also prevents new jobs from being created.

Companies frequently find themselves tangled in a web of rules that result in the decision to simply not make an investment because of the uncertainty of the regulatory process – or they decide to invest overseas. Others roll the dice, hoping that the rule they are making decisions under today will still be in place when their project is completed. When regulations such as the Boiler MACT rules and changes in the National Ambient Air Quality Standards create such uncertainty and are not affordable or achievable, investing in an energy efficiency project, modernization programs, or a new biomass boiler can be very risky, preventing job creation in rural communities that desperately need it.

Unfortunately, it is easier to see the jobs that are lost after the fact. But the greatest damage may be unknowable — the projects never built, the products never made, the jobs never created, or the entrepreneurial ideas drowned in the sea of red tape.

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