WASHINGTON - In response to federal court orders requiring the issuance of final standards, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has issued final Clean Air Act standards for boilers that reduce emissions, but cut the cost of implementation by about 50 percent from an earlier proposal issued last year.

In response to a September 2009 court order, EPA issued proposed rules in April 2010, prompting significant public input. The proposed rules followed a period that began in 2007, when a federal court vacated a set of industry specific standards proposed during the Bush administration. Based on the public input received following the April 2010 proposal, EPA made extensive revisions, and in December 2010 requested additional time for review to ensure the public’s input was fully addressed. The court granted EPA 30 days, resulting in this announcement.

Based on input from stakeholders including the public, industry, and the public health communities, EPA said this announcement represents a significant cut in the cost of implementation, while maintaining maximum public health benefits.

The agency received more than 4,800 comments from businesses and communities across the country in response to the proposed rules. Public input included a significant amount of information that industry had not provided prior to the proposal. Based on this feedback, EPA revised the draft standards based on the input to provide additional flexibility and more cost effective techniques, which the agency says will lower the cost of emissions control by about 50 percent, or $1.8 billion.

Because the final standards are significantly different from the proposals, EPA believes further public review is required. Therefore, the agency will reconsider the final standards under a Clean Air Act process that allows it to seek additional public review and comment.

The types of boilers covered by these updated standards include:

• Boilers at large sources of emissions: There are about 13,800 boilers located at various industrial facilities. EPA estimates that the costs of implementation have been reduced by $1.5 billion from the proposed standard.

• Boilers located at small sources of emissions: There are about 187,000 boilers located at universities, hospitals, hotels, and commercial buildings that may be covered by these standards. Due to the small amount of emissions these sources are responsible for, EPA has limited the impact of the rule on small entities. The original standards for these have been refined and updated to ensure flexibility, revising the requirement from maximum achievable control technology to generally available control technology. The cost reduction from the proposed standard to the final is estimated to be $209 million.

For more information, visit www.epa.gov/airquality/combustion.

Publication date:02/28/2011