EPA unveils revised air pollution rules for industrial boilers

"With this action, EPA is applying the right standards to the right boilers," Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, said in a statement. "Gathering the latest and best real-world information is leading to practical, affordable air pollution safeguards that will provide the vital and overdue health protection that Americans deserve."

The agency said Friday that it made a number of changes to the rules in an effort to respond to industry concerns.

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From EPA’s statement: “EPA is proposing to create additional subcategories and revise emissions limits. EPA is also proposing to provide more flexible compliance options for meeting the particle pollution and carbon monoxide limits, replace numeric emissions limits with work practice standards for certain pollutants, allow more flexibility for units burning clean gases to qualify for work practice standards and reduce some monitoring requirements.”

EPA issued revised final regulations for boilers and solid waste incinerators in February under a court-ordered deadline. The final rules were more lenient than draft standards issued by the agency last year, which industry groups had called unworkable. EPA then opened up a reconsideration process on the revised final standards.

The regulations had come under fire from industry groups, Republicans and some centrist Democrats, who argue that the rules will impose a massive burden on the economy. The House voted in October to delay the implementation of the rules.

Clean air and public health groups praised the regulations Friday.

"It is past time to move forward with these lifesaving standards," the American Lung Association said in a statement. "Research has shown that toxic air pollution from industrial boilers harm human health, targeting the circulatory, respiratory, nervous, endocrine, and other essential life systems."

The American Chemistry Council, an industry group, offered reserved praise for the standards.

"We appreciate EPA’s thoughtful consideration of these rules and willingness to make sensible changes," ACC President Cal Dooley said in a statement. "While we need to review the rules for technical details, it appears that improvements have been made."