Industry and Environmentalists Weigh In on EPA’s Request for an Extension of Deadline for Final Boiler Rules


Source: SOCMA
Related Topics: US Environmental Protection Agency

On December 24, Earthjustice, on behalf of the Sierra Club, filed a motion opposing EPA’s request for an extension of the court-ordered deadline for the final Boiler MACT and GACT rules, arguing that the agency was already ten years late in issuing the rules and that additional delay would hurt public health.  (The current looming deadline for the final rules is January 16, and EPA recently filed a motion with a federal court, asking for an extension until April 2012 to give the agency the opportunity to repropose those rules. (If the court doesn’t grant the 15-month delay request, EPA is seeking an extension at least until June 15 so it can respond to all of the comments it has received on the proposals.)

The original court order for boiler deadlines was issued in March 2006 and thus, Earthjustice argued, the agency has already had years to develop the rules.   Earthjustice also cites data the agency included in its own fact sheet on the proposed boiler rule in April  -- data which suggests that failure to establish stricter emission limits on boilers causes 2,000 – 5100 premature deaths per year.  The environmental group also contends that the court can’t grant the extension just because EPA argues it can’t meet the current deadline, and claims that the agency has not met the burden of proving that a delay was justifiable. 

On December 27, industry groups countered this motion with their own motion, strongly supporting EPA’s extension request. 

The coalition of 6 industry groups, known as the Coalition for Clean Air Implementation, argues that the major problems with the original proposals justify the additional delay for withdrawing and reproposing the rules. The group cited both the anticipated huge economic impacts of the rules, as well as the regulated community’s need for certainty in order to comply with them.   The group argued that the 15-month requested extension was the minimum time necessary  for EPA to review all the comments it has received; a rule issued under a shorter extension (or no extension at all), the group continued, would likely be vulnerable to a legal challenge.

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