Engineered Systems Magazine

Congress extends regulatory limbo

November 7, 2011
Issues & Events

Congress extends regulatory limbo

The U. S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2250, the "EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011,'' last month by a vote of 275 to 142 (not enough to override an expected Presidential veto) — and then they went home for a week of campaigning. Let’s see — we were able to find the time to defer opportunities for additional business and jobs for the boiler industry, but left town before an FY 2012 Federal Budget is in place, any dollars have been shredded off the federal budget deficit, and before the national debt was lessened by even one penny. And, we’re going to go home to seek kudos for a job well done!

As you know, H. R. 2250 is intended to give the USEPA additional time — after the decade they’ve already had — and to provide “guidelines” to develop “achievable” ICI-BMACT rules under the Clean Air Act. The bill now faces an uncertain future in the U. S. Senate, and the White House has already indicated that if the bill gets to the White House, key advisors will recommend that the President veto the bill. Key provisions of the bill would:

 

•          Provide USEPA with 15 additional months to re-propose and finalize achievable rules for boilers, process heaters, and incinerators;

•          Extend compliance deadlines from three years to at least five years to allow affected facilities time to comply with standards and install necessary equipment;

•          Direct USEPA, when developing the new rules, to adopt definitions that allow sources to continue to use alternative fuels for energy recovery; and

•          Direct USEPA to ensure that new rules are “achievable” by “real-world boilers,” process heaters, and incinerators and impose the least burdensome regulatory alternatives consistent with the purposes of the Clean Air Act and President Obama's Executive Order 13563 regarding improving regulation and regulatory review. Of course, there’s no definition in the bill of what is or is not “achievable” or just what a “real-world” boiler is.

 

Although USEPA’s intention is to have ICI-BMACT Major Source rules back on the street by April of 2012, any additional business for this industry that was likely to flow from the ICI-BMACT Major Source rules will be put on hold for at least another 15 months if this bill is ever signed into law. [ICI-BMACT Area Source rules are now in effect.]

In passing H. R. 2250 the U. S. House of Representatives has once again engaged in pugnacious political theater of the type to which we have become all too accustomed in recent months.

Approving this bill, the House has cast its lot with discredited, flawed, self-serving studies and exaggerated impact analyses to advance an anti-regulatory political agenda in an election year rather than meaningfully contributing to any credible or constructive effort to provide clarity or afford certainty. Opting for continued, arbitrarily-chosen delay and imprecise legislative definitions and directions, the House has signaled its preference for on-going, long-term market-place uncertainty and turmoil rather than trying to resolve exigent issues.

Confronted with an uncertain future in the U. S. Senate and a threatened veto by the President, the House nonetheless has slapped boiler and boiler-related equipment manufacturers and their employees across the face with unwarranted and unfounded allegations that American boiler manufacturers are unable to meet tough air quality emissions rules, and that any effort by them to do so would be overly costly. The ABMA categorically rejects those assertions.

For over a quarter of a century, members of the American Boiler Manufacturers Association have successfully met each and every air-quality and emissions-limit challenge thrown at us by state, local and federal regulators and have done so with innovative ideas and newly-developed products in a cost-effective and timely manner. The small business members of this Association are ready and able to meet today’s challenges as effectively as they have done in every other instance in which they have been called on to do so. The delay envisioned by the House will yield no market stability, no new jobs, no economic growth, and no cleaner air or any cheaper ultimate compliance options than are now feasible and readily available.  TB