|Regulations harming more than just the coal industry|
We have discussed the impact of well-intentioned, but poorly planned and short-sighted legislation and regulations on the coal and energy generation industries in the Issues section of this site. These issues have also been covered in several posts on the Coalblog. While it remains essential to produce affordable electricity in an efficient and clean manner, environmental regulations must be drafted in a manner that also recognizes the need for a sustainable and thriving economy and jobs. Regulations that "overshoot the mark” by "sacrificing jobs” in the pursuit of environmental purity, rather than protecting "both jobs and the environment” do far more long-term harm. In the rush to pass more and more regulation, it is often thought that more regulation will inevitably lead to better results. However, the reality is that unbalanced, or poorly planned regulation often has regressive and destructive impacts - that type of regulation often ends up hurting the very people it was intended to protect.
Sadly, the impacts of over-reaching EPA regulations are not limited to coal; they are also having serious negative impacts on American manufacturing, as well as the chemical, cement, metal and steel, forest and paper, refining, and biomass sectors. In fact, the Council of Industrial Boiler Owners (CIBO) states in its recently released report, "The Economic Impact of Proposed EPA Boiler/Process Heater MACT Rule on Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boiler and Process Heater Operators,” that,
This study, prepared by IHS Global Insight, forecasts that 338,000 jobs at regulated facilities would be at risk if this new boiler MACT rule is passed as written.
EPA MACT Boiler Rules
The rules will impose strict emissions limits on five hazardous air pollutants (HAPs),
An August 2010 report on the impacts of the new EPA rules, prepared by the Council of Industrial Boiler Owners (CIBO) indicates that sources (i.e. boilers or heaters) greater than (or equal to) 10MMBtu/hr will be required to meet emission limits for the five HAPs. Those producing 100 MMBtu/hr and greater will be forced to install CO CEMs (continuous emissions monitors). Those sources fueled with solid or residual fuels and producing 250 MMBtu/hr and greater will be forced to install PM CEMs.
Other sources describe how the rules will impacts on biomass boilers emitting 10 or more tons per year of any single air toxic or 25 tons per year or more of any combination of HAPs.” The rule is expected to impact more than 10,000 existing fossil- and biomass-fueled boilers as well as any new boilers built after the rule is put into effect. Industry representatives are calling the new rule "uneconomic and unachievable.” They are also stating that existing biomass facilities will be unable to comply and proposed facilities are now being shelved until the rulemaking process is completed.
Representatives of the Biomass Power Association have been quoted as saying that 100 percent of biomass boilers in the U.S. would be required to implement expensive new emissions control technologies. Total bills for these updates are forecast to cost as much as $7 billion. Furthermore, the shuttering of, or delays in building new, biomass-fueled plants would entail that biomass wastes currently being used to produce electric power would be burned in open fires or diverted to landfills, leading to uncontrolled particulate emissions and methane releases.
The EPA has also begun a review of the secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for airborne SO2 — currently at 53 parts per billion averaged over a year — and NOX — currently 500 parts per billion averaged over three hours — are "not strict enough to prevent damage to the environment” and that new, even more strict rules may be forthcoming.
The EPA report suggests that the current limits on emissions of SO2 and NOX limits should revisited, made stricter, and based on how they affect bodies of water. EPA plans are apparently to release proposed rules in July 2011.
To learn more about the beneficial reuse of CCPs, you can follow this link to our Coal Ash – Coal Combustion Products (CCPs) Issues page.