EPA issues regulations to cut harmful air pollution from boilers

The final regulations represent one of EPA’s first efforts to rework rules based in part on an executive order outlined by President Obama last month that requires all federal agencies to review their regulations to ensure they are not overly burdensome.

Overall, the standards will have significant health benefits, EPA says. They will “avoid between 2,600-6,600 premature deaths, prevent 4,100 heart attacks and avert 42,000 asthma attacks per year in 2014,” according to the agency.

McCarthy said the public will see $10 to $24 in health benefits for every $1 dollar spent on the rules. She also said the rules will result in a net increase of 2,200 jobs.

EPA had asked a federal judge for 15 months to issue its final rules, but the judge gave the agency just 30 days. But McCarthy said the final regulations were not affected by the shortened timeframe. "We’re pretty comfortable with the rule we put out," she said.

Clean air groups praised the rules Wednesday. Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, said in a statement, “NACAA is pleased that EPA has issued its long-awaited rules that will reduce mercury, benzene, acid gases and other hazardous air pollutants from thousands of industrial facilities across the country. The benefits are huge and far outweigh the costs.”

But industry groups said the final rules are too stringent. Aric Newhouse, senior vice president for policy and government relations at the National Association of Manufacturers, said the rule is an example of “EPA’s aggressive, overreaching agenda.”

“This is a harsh, inflexible rule that will cost jobs, hurt global competitiveness and may discourage projects that could otherwise lead to environmental improvements,” Newhouse said in a statement.

Industry groups will have an opportunity to weigh in on the proposal. Because the final regulations are so different from the proposed rule, the agency will take public comment on key portions of the rule.