UPDATE: EPA releases finalized boiler MACT rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized changes to Clean Air Act standards for boilers and certain incinerators, also known as the Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (boiler MACT) rule. As a result, 99 percent of the approximately 1.5 million boilers in the U.S. are not covered or can meet the new standards by conducting periodic maintenance or regular tune-ups.

As a result of information gathered through public comments, the final rule dramatically cuts the cost of implementation by individual boilers that EPA proposed in 2010.

The rules set numerical emission limits for high emitting boilers and incinerators, which accounts for less than 1 percent of boilers in the sector.  For these boilers and incinerators, typically operating at refineries, chemical plants and other industrial facilities, EPA is establishing more targeted emissions limits.

"The limits that do apply to boilers are completely achievable in most conditions and, when applied to boiler-room specific situations, will be far more affordable than detractors maintain," said Randy Rawson, president and chief executive officer of the American Boiler Manufacturers Association. "The vast majority of existing commercial and industrial boilers have been taken out of the mix because of the fuel they fire; those remainig that will have to meet specific emissions limits should find them even more achievable and affordable than in previous Industrial Boiler MACT rules."

EPA has also finalized revisions to the Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials Rule to provide clarity on what types of secondary materials are considered non-waste fuels and provide greater flexibility in rule implementation. This final rule classifies a number of secondary materials as categorical non-wastes when used as a fuel and allows for operators to request that EPA identify specific materials through rulemaking as a categorical non-waste fuel.

Rawson said boiler manufacturers are happy there is now a guideline in place to help them move forward with emissions controls.

"The December 2012 final rules represent a dramatic swing away from earlier, more rigid rules and an embrace of the basic differences between boiler types, boiler fuels and their respective application," Rawson said. "EPA has obviously immersed itself in boiler technology and in the constructive comments of those who routinely use and apply boiler technology; EPA has now crafted a set of air toxics rules that not only continue to protect the public health and welfare, but do so with even more common sense and adaptability."

For more information on the rule, click here.

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