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Maine Politics

Michaud Seeks Administrative Fix for Biomass Regulation
By Newswire
Oct 7, 2011 - 12:05:30 AM

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Congressman Mike Michaud sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson requesting that her agency reassess the one-size-fits-all approach the agency originally took in formulating the Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule for industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and process heaters.

Michaud joined many of his colleagues last year in writing to Jackson expressing concern over the rule. Michaud is also a cosponsor of the "EPA Regulatory Relief Act" (H.R. 2250), which was introduced to respond to serious concerns from a number of industries in Maine and throughout the country. The bill, which is expected to be voted on in the House this week, would grant EPA the additional time it requested for the development of new rules and provide adequate time for industries, businesses, and facilities to comply with the new rules.

"With Senate action on a legislative fix uncertain, the fastest way to improve this regulation would be to have the EPA address it administratively," said Michaud. "It's critical that action be taken as soon as possible because jobs in Maine and throughout the country are on the line. I'm hopeful the agency can find a way to strike a responsible balance between the need to foster our fragile economic recovery and protect the environment and public health."

The full text of the letter.

October 5, 2011

The Honorable Lisa Jackson
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460

Dear Administrator Jackson:

I am writing to express my concerns with the proposed Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule for industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and process heaters and to urge the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve the regulation administratively. Unless the Boiler MACT rule is improved, it will discourage the current use of wood biomass energy and create serious obstacles to the future development of renewable biomass energy projects. The rule will also result in job losses in the wood, pulp, and paper industries and slow the development of biomass initiatives that have the potential to significantly reduce air pollution and production of greenhouse gases.

Specifically, I urge the EPA to address the Boiler MACT rule's impractical emission standards and to reassess the emissions data that are based on a very narrow subset of the best performing existing emissions sources. The EPA should not set a "one size fits all" emissions standard, but rather it should establish emissions standards that distinguish between the large diversity in boiler configurations and fuel types in the industrial, commercial, and institutional sectors. It is critical that the EPA recognize the limitations with the existing emissions data and employ the most appropriate statistical analyses to ensure that the emissions standards are based on what real-world sources actually can achieve.

As demonstrated by my recent opposition to H.R. 2401 (TRAIN Act), I support your efforts to address significant health threats from air emissions in a cost effective manner, and I believe regulations can be crafted to accomplish this while still protecting jobs and promoting economic growth. I appreciate your willingness, as expressed in your recent responses to congressional letters, to consider changes to the proposed Boiler MACT rule. I believe the Clean Air Act provides the EPA with the necessary flexibility to craft a regulation that achieves environmental and public health priorities but also considers the compliance burden on affected industries. I urge EPA to administratively incorporate flexible approaches that include a health threshold standard option in the final Boiler MACT rule. EPA making these changes will prevent severe job losses in my state and around the country and will avoid billions of dollars in unnecessary regulatory costs.

In addition to making these changes, I encourage EPA to evaluate all comments and data submitted on the Boiler MACT rule through the public comment process so that the most effective and reasonable regulation can be promulgated to both protect the environment and public health and foster our economic recovery.

Thank you for your consideration of my concerns. I look forward to working with you to ensure that EPA's policies promote clean air, alternative energy development, and job creation.

Warmest regards,

Michael H. Michaud
Member of Congress

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