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Friday, December 30, 2011

EPA’s Boiler MACT: Controlling Emissions of Hazardous Air Pollutants


James E. McCarthy
Specialist in Environmental Policy

On December 2, 2011, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed proposed revisions to EPA’s recently promulgated Maximum Achievable Control Technology standards for boilers (the “Boiler MACT”). Publication of the proposed revisions in the Federal Register will begin a 60- day public comment period, after which EPA will complete reconsideration of the rule – presumably by mid-2012. The Boiler MACT standards now being reconsidered were promulgated March 21, 2011, to meet the requirements of Section 112 of the Clean Air Act, but implementation has been stayed until completion of the reconsideration process. There is widespread interest in the rule’s requirements and their potential effects, because boilers are used as power sources throughout industry, and for power or heat by large commercial establishments and institutions as well.

EPA developed the regulations because it has found, based on emissions data, that boilers (including coal-, biomass-, and liquid-fired boilers) are major sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). The Clean Air Act defines a major source as any facility that emits 10 tons or more of a single listed HAP or 25 tons of any combination of HAPs annually. The HAPs themselves (187 substances) were listed by Congress in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

When finalized, the rule will replace a 2004 version of the rule that was vacated and remanded to EPA by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. EPA has been under a court order to promulgate a replacement.

As proposed December 2, the MACT would affect about 14,000 boilers and process heaters, with capital costs of $5.4 billion, according to the agency; annualized costs, which spread the costs of capital over the expected life of the equipment and include operating and maintenance expenses, are estimated at $1.49 billion per year. Most of these costs would be borne by boilers that burn coal, biomass, or liquid fuels; only 12% of all the units covered by the rule will need to install equipment to meet it. Most of the boilers affected by the rule (83%) are fueled by natural gas or refinery gases. These boilers would not have to install pollution control equipment and most would experience cost savings under the rule, according to EPA. For the rule as a whole, EPA estimated that benefits—including the avoidance of 3,100 to 8,000 premature deaths annually— would outweigh costs by at least $25 billion per year.

Affected industries and many in Congress have raised objections to the rule both as proposed and as promulgated, and bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate (H.R. 2250 and S. 1392) to alter the rule’s requirements and delay its implementation. H.R. 2250 passed the House 275-142, on October 13. In response to comments on an earlier proposal, EPA’s final rule had already reduced the number of units expected to require controls, and made the emissions standards much less stringent than those in the proposed rule, reducing the agency’s estimate of annualized control costs from $2.9 billion to $1.4 billion.

In addition to the Boiler MACT, this report discusses three related rules that EPA promulgated at the same time, dealing with smaller “area source” boilers and with commercial and industrial boilers that burn solid waste (the “CISWI” and solid waste rules). The latter two rules have also been controversial. Like the Boiler MACT, the CISWI rule has been stayed for reconsideration.



Date of Report: December 1
6, 2011
Number of Pages:
28
Order Number: R414
59
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) FY2012 Appropriations


Robert Esworthy
Specialist in Environmental Policy

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal departments and agencies funded within the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill are currently operating under a continuing resolution (P.L. 112-55), which runs through December 16, 2011, while the debate over FY2012 appropriations continues. In July 2011, the House Appropriations Committee reported H.R. 2584 (H.Rept. 112-151) with $27.52 billion in appropriations for FY2012 for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. Title II of H.R. 2584, as reported, would provide a total of $7.15 billion for EPA, $1.82 billion (20%) less than the President’s FY2012 request of $8.97 billion, and $1.53 billion (18%) less than the FY2011 enacted appropriation of $8.68 billion. In addition to funding levels for the various EPA programs and activities, H.R. 2584 as reported included more than 25 provisions that would restrict or preclude the use of FY2012 funds by EPA for implementing or proceeding with a number of recent and pending EPA regulatory actions. Nearly 250 amendments, including several regarding EPA, were under consideration during floor debate which was suspended on July 28, 2011. No companion bill for FY2012 appropriations has been formally introduced in the Senate. However, on October 14, 2011, the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies released a draft bill for FY2012 to serve as a starting point of discussions for markup. The Senate subcommittee draft, which recommended $8.62 billion for EPA, did not include those provisions that would restrict or preclude the use of FY2012 funds for certain EPA actions, as were contained in the House committee-reported H.R. 2584.

Several EPA regulatory actions have received considerable attention during House and Senate oversight committee hearings, appropriations committee hearings, and House floor debate on the FY2012 appropriations. The provisions included in H.R. 2584 as reported, and many of the House floor amendments (considered and pending), cut across the various environmental pollution control statutes’ programs and initiatives, such as those that address greenhouse gas emissions, hazardous air pollutants, particulate matter emissions, permitting of new source air emissions, water quality impacts of mountaintop mining operations, management of coal ash, lead-based paint removal, environmental impacts associated with livestock operations, financial responsibility with respect to Superfund cleanup, and stormwater discharge. Further, Title V of the House committee-reported bill, “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011,” included significant amendments to the Clean Water Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in response to EPA’s consideration of requiring permits under the Clean Water Act for point source discharges of pesticides in or near U.S. waters. To date, House floor debate on H.R. 2584 has not been completed.

This report summarizes funding levels for EPA accounts and certain program activities as proposed in H.R. 2584 as reported by the House Appropriations Committee, and in the Senate subcommittee draft. Selected provisions regarding EPA program activities extracted from the House committee-reported bill are also presented. Only those provisions that are clearly identifiable by specific language or references contained in the bill are included. No comparable provisions were identified for the Senate subcommittee draft. Amendments that were voted on and pending during initial House floor debate at the end of July 2011 are not included.



Date of Report: December
5, 2011
Number of Pages:
29
Order Number: R41
979
Price: $29.95

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Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

EPA’s Boiler MACT: Controlling Emissions of Hazardous Air Pollutants


James E. McCarthy
Specialist in Environmental Policy

On December 2, 2011, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed proposed revisions to EPA’s recently promulgated Maximum Achievable Control Technology standards for boilers (the “Boiler MACT”). Publication of the proposed revisions in the Federal Register will begin a 60- day public comment period, after which EPA will complete reconsideration of the rule – presumably by mid-2012. The Boiler MACT standards now being reconsidered were promulgated March 21, 2011, to meet the requirements of Section 112 of the Clean Air Act, but implementation has been stayed until completion of the reconsideration process. There is widespread interest in the rule’s requirements and their potential effects, because boilers are used as power sources throughout industry, and for power or heat by large commercial establishments and institutions as well.

EPA developed the regulations because it has found, based on emissions data, that boilers (including coal-, biomass-, and liquid-fired boilers) are major sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). The Clean Air Act defines a major source as any facility that emits 10 tons or more of a single listed HAP or 25 tons of any combination of HAPs annually. The HAPs themselves (187 substances) were listed by Congress in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

When finalized, the rule will replace a 2004 version of the rule that was vacated and remanded to EPA by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. EPA has been under a court order to promulgate a replacement.

As proposed December 2, the MACT would affect about 14,000 boilers and process heaters, with capital costs of $5.4 billion, according to the agency; annualized costs, which spread the costs of capital over the expected life of the equipment and include operating and maintenance expenses, are estimated at $1.49 billion per year. Most of these costs would be borne by boilers that burn coal, biomass, or liquid fuels; only 12% of all the units covered by the rule will need to install equipment to meet it. Most of the boilers affected by the rule (83%) are fueled by natural gas or refinery gases. These boilers would not have to install pollution control equipment and most would experience cost savings under the rule, according to EPA. For the rule as a whole, EPA estimated that benefits—including the avoidance of 3,100 to 8,000 premature deaths annually— would outweigh costs by at least $25 billion per year.

Affected industries and many in Congress have raised objections to the rule both as proposed and as promulgated, and bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate (H.R. 2250 and S. 1392) to alter the rule’s requirements and delay its implementation. H.R. 2250 passed the House 275-142, on October 13. In response to comments on an earlier proposal, EPA’s final rule had already reduced the number of units expected to require controls, and made the emissions standards much less stringent than those in the proposed rule, reducing the agency’s estimate of annualized control costs from $2.9 billion to $1.4 billion.

In addition to the Boiler MACT, this report discusses three related rules that EPA promulgated at the same time, dealing with smaller “area source” boilers and with commercial and industrial boilers that burn solid waste (the “CISWI” and solid waste rules). The latter two rules have also been controversial. Like the Boiler MACT, the CISWI rule has been stayed for reconsideration.



Date of Report: December
8, 2011
Number of Pages: 2
8
Order Number: R41
459
Price: $29.95

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Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): A Summary of the Act and Its Major Requirements


Linda-Jo Schierow
Specialist in Environmental Policy

This report summarizes the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the major regulatory programs dealing with chemical production and distribution in U.S. commerce. The text is excerpted, with minor modifications, from the corresponding chapter of CRS Report RL30798, Environmental Laws: Summaries of Major Statutes Administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, coordinated by David M. Bearden, which summarizes more than a dozen environmental statutes. Issues related to TSCA implementation are addressed in CRS Report RL34118, The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): Implementation and New Challenges, by Linda-Jo Schierow.

The President’s Council on Environmental Quality proposed comprehensive federal legislation in 1971 to identify and control potentially dangerous chemicals in U.S. commerce that were not adequately regulated under other environmental statutes. President Ford signed TSCA into law on October 11, 1976. Subsequently, five titles were added to address specific concerns—asbestos in 1986 (Title II, P.L. 99-519), radon in 1988 (Title III, P.L. 100-551), lead in 1992 (Title IV, P.L. 102-550), environmental and energy issues in schools in 2007 (Title V, P.L. 110-140), and formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products in 2010 (Title VI, P.L. 111-199). In 2008, Congress added provisions to Title I, Section 6 and Section 12, banning certain activities with respect to elemental mercury (P.L. 110-414).

TSCA authorizes EPA to identify potentially dangerous chemicals in U.S. commerce that should be subject to federal control. The act authorizes EPA to gather and disseminate information about production, use, and possible adverse effects to human health and the environment of existing chemicals, and to issue “test rules” that require manufacturers and processors of potentially dangerous chemicals to conduct and report the results of scientific studies to fill information gaps. For chemicals new to U.S. commerce, TSCA requires pre-market screening and regulatory tracking of new chemical products.

If EPA identifies unreasonable risks associated with existing or new chemicals, TSCA requires the agency to initiate rulemaking to reduce risks to a reasonable level. EPA may regulate the manufacture, importation, processing, distribution, use, and/or disposal of chemicals. TSCA provides a variety of regulatory tools to EPA, ranging in severity from a total ban on production, import, and use to a requirement that a product must bear a warning label at the point of sale. However, TSCA directs EPA to use the least burdensome option that can reduce risk to a level that is reasonable, given the benefits provided by the chemical product or process.

Title I of the original statute establishes the core program, directs EPA to control risks from polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and bans certain activities with respect to elemental mercury. Title II directs EPA to set standards for asbestos mitigation in schools and requires asbestos contractors to be trained and certified. Title III directs EPA to provide technical assistance to states that choose to support radon monitoring and control. Title IV provides similar assistance with respect to abatement of lead-based paint hazards. Title V addresses environmental issues at schools, including energy efficiency. Finally, Title VI directs EPA to set standards for emissions of formaldehyde from composite wood products.



Date of Report: December 5, 2011
Number of Pages: 19
Order Number: RL31905
Price: $29.95

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases: Congressional Responses and Options


James E. McCarthy
Specialist in Environmental Policy

As a direct result of the Environmental Protection Agency’s promulgation of an “endangerment finding” for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in December 2009, and its subsequent promulgation of GHG emission standards for new motor vehicles on April 1, 2010, the agency has proceeded to control GHG emissions from new and modified stationary sources as well, including power plants, manufacturing facilities, and others. Stationary sources account for 69% of U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases. If the United States is to reduce its total GHG emissions, as President Obama has committed to do, it will be necessary to address these sources.

EPA’s regulations limiting GHG emissions from new cars and light trucks automatically triggered two Clean Air Act (CAA) provisions affecting stationary sources of air pollution. First, effective January 2, 2011, new or modified major stationary sources must undergo New Source Review (NSR) with respect to their GHGs in addition to any other pollutants subject to regulation under the CAA that are emitted by the source. This review requires affected sources to install Best Available Control Technology (BACT) to address their GHG emissions. Second, major sources of GHGs (existing and new) must now obtain permits under Title V of the CAA (or have existing permits modified to include their GHG requirements). Beyond these permitting requirements, because stationary sources, particularly coal-fired power plants, are the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, EPA is likely to find itself compelled to issue endangerment findings and establish emission control standards for GHG emissions under other parts of the act. In December 2010, EPA reached settlement agreements with numerous parties under which it is required to promulgate final decisions on New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for electric generating units by May 2012 and for petroleum refineries by November 2012.

EPA shares congressional concerns about the potential scope of these regulations, primarily because a literal reading of the act would have required as many as 6 million stationary sources to obtain permits. To avoid this result, on May 13, 2010, the agency finalized a “Tailoring Rule” that focuses its resources on the largest emitters while deciding over a six-year period what to do about smaller sources.

Many in Congress have suggested that EPA should delay taking action on any stationary sources or should be prevented from doing so. There are at least 10 bills introduced in the 112th Congress that would delay or prevent EPA actions on greenhouse gas emissions. In February, the text of one bill, H.R. 153, was added to the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act (H.R. 1) during floor debate on a 249-177 vote. H.R. 1 passed the House, February 19, but failed in the Senate, March 9. On April 7, the House passed Representative Upton’s H.R. 910, which would repeal EPA’s endangerment finding, redefine “air pollutants” to exclude greenhouse gases, and prohibit EPA from promulgating any regulation to address climate change. In the Senate, similar legislation failed to pass, April 6.

This report discusses elements of this controversy, providing background on stationary sources of greenhouse gas pollution and identifying options Congress has at its disposal to address the issues, including (1) resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act; (2) freestanding legislation; (3) the use of appropriations bills as a vehicle to restrain EPA activity; and (4) amendments to the Clean Air Act, including legislation to establish a new GHG control regime.



Date of Report: December 1, 2011
Number of Pages: 18
Order Number: R41212
Price: $29.95

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Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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