EPA finalizes boiler, cement pollution rule changes
By Edward Felker
The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday finalized changes to mercury and particle pollution rules for industrial boilers and certain incinerators, while also setting new pollution limits and timetables at cement plants.
The amendments to its 2010 rule on air toxics from cement kilns lower particulate limits to meet available measuring technology capability. EPA also extended the compliance deadline by two years to September 2015, with an option for facilities to request one additional year.
EPA said the changes to its 2010 boiler and incinerator rule will cut compliance costs for most boiler owners and that 99 percent will be able to meet the standard through regular maintenance.
The rule will retain EPA emissions limits for large boilers and incinerators used at refineries, chemical plants and other industrial sites, but said they will be more tightly targeted.
The boiler and incinerator rules "will achieve extensive public health protections by slashing toxic air pollution, including mercury and particle pollution, while at the same addressing feedback provided by industry and labor groups, increasing the rule’s flexibility and dramatically reducing costs," EPA said in a statement.
The agency said the rules will prevent up to 8,100 premature deaths, 5,100 heart attacks and 52,000 asthma attacks annually by 2015.
EPA amended both rules in response to petitions for reconsideration filed by industry and environmental groups. It was also under a deadline set last December by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which remanded parts of the original cement plant rule back to EPA for further work.
The changes won qualified backing from the Council of Industrial Boiler Owners. Bob Bessette, president of the group, said EPA improved the ability of boiler owners to comply, but cautioned that costs could still be high. The EPA's original rule would have cost industry about $20 billion, and Bessette said its proposed changes earlier this year reduced that estimate only to $14 billion.
Portland Cement Association President Greg Scott gave a stronger endorsement of the changes to the cement rule. He said it struck the "right balance" in timetables and pollution limits, calling them realistic and achievable.
"PCA and EPA agreed that the revised standards and reset compliance period are essential to preserving jobs at domestic cement facilities, providing direct support for an American manufacturing industry that is critical to our nation’s infrastructure," he said.