On Dec. 20, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued final changes to Clean Air Act standards for major- and area-source boilers and commercial and industrial solid-waste incinerators (CISWI) originally finalized in March 2011.

The EPA reconsidered the March 2011 standards under a Clean Air Act process allowing it to seek additional public comment in the interest of ensuring full transparency. The EPA received more than 50 petitions to reconsider, clarify, and amend provisions of the final rules. In December 2011, the EPA proposed adjustments to the March 2011 standards and invited further comment. Information provided during the rule-development and reconsideration processes resulted in the EPA’s final adjustments, which include:

• Changes to emission limits for certain pollutants in certain categories of major boilers and CISWI.

• Additions to and refinements of the list of subcategories of boilers.

• Setting compliance deadlines of 2016 and 2018 for major boilers and CISWI, respectively.

• Maintaining numerical emission limits for the highest-emitting 0.4 percent of all boilers.

The U.S. Department of Energy, through its regional Clean Energy Application Centers, will provide site-specific technical and cost information to major-source facilities burning coal or oil in their boilers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will reach out to facilities with boilers that burn biomass to make sure operators understand the regulation and its cost- and energy-saving features.

On Dec. 22, W. Randall Rawson, president and chief executive officer of the American Boiler Manufacturers Association, issued the following statement:

“The final Industrial Boiler MACT rules, as released by EPA on Dec. 20, 2012, are light-years ahead of its original March 2011 proposals in compliance latitude and flexibility, allowing for far more affordable compliance options than ever before and embracing approaches to air toxics that, as EPA put it, ‘recognize the diverse and complex range of uses and fuels’ in the ‘real-world operating conditions of specific types of boilers.’ Part of the compliance flexibility is extended dates for compliance that make observance almost foolproof—clearly, they are compliance dates that the American boiler industry can and will respond.

“As with every other recent permutation of its Industrial Boiler MACT standards, EPA’s newest iteration ... are boiler-room-specific. As such, how much investment will actually be needed to comply with the final rules will depend entirely on the age and condition of each boiler room to which the new rules may apply and to what extent they may apply. 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. The vast majority of existing commercial and industrial boilers have been taken out of the mix because of the fuel they fire; those remaining that will have to meet specific emissions limits should find them even more achievable and affordable than in previous Industrial Boiler MACT rules. There is nothing about the December 2012 final rules that render them unachievable or unaffordable. ... 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.”

For more information on the adjustments to air-toxics-emissions requirements for boilers and incinerators, click here and here.