Bloomberg News

EPA Pollution Standards for U.S. Boilers Blocked in U.S. House

October 14, 2011

Oct. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Limits on air pollution from U.S. industrial boilers would be blocked and replacement standards delayed under legislation passed by the Republican-led House of Representatives.

The measure was approved 275-142 yesterday as Republicans push to curtail Environmental Protection Agency regulations they say are harming the economy.

“We simply believe that this legislation is a common-sense approach to protect jobs, revisit the rules and give industries time to comply,” Representative Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican, said before the vote.

President Barack Obama’s aides have said they would recommend that he veto the bill if it reached his desk.

The House vote sends “a strong message of the importance of providing EPA with additional time to issue achievable standards,” Thomas Ryan, a spokesman for Memphis, Tennessee- based International Paper Co., the world’s largest paper and pulp producer, said in an e-mail before the vote. A companion measure in the Senate has 35 co-sponsors, and continues “to gain momentum,” he said.

The EPA is preparing to issue a set of rules for boilers aimed at cutting emissions of toxics such as mercury and soot. The estimated cost of the regulation is $3 billion, according to the White House.

The EPA’s efforts to cut pollution from boilers have been opposed by paper processors such as International Paper and Weyerhaeuser Co., as well as refiners, manufacturers and some universities and hospitals. The legislation to block the rules is backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest business lobbying group, and the American Petroleum Institute, whose members include ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp.

Court Order

The EPA issued boiler standards in February under court order, and then pledged to reconsider them following criticism by business groups. The revised EPA rules are scheduled to be released before the end of this month and take effect in April.

A representative of boiler makers such as Babcock & Wilcox Co. and Cleaver-Brooks Inc. criticized Congress for stepping ahead of the regulators.

“What the House is saying is that my industry doesn’t have the know-how or talent to do the job,” W. Randall Rawson, president of the American Boiler Manufacturers Association in Vienna, Virginia, said in an interview.

After 10 years of delay, new EPA standards would spur sales in the $3 billion to $5 billion-a-year boiler industry, he said.

15 Months

Under the legislation, the EPA would have 15 months to rework the rules, and companies would have an additional five years to comply. The Clean Air Act gives industry a three-year compliance deadline.

Democrats said the House measure would squander the potential for years of health benefits.

“We do not have to make the false choice between a healthy economy and healthy environment,” Representative Gerald Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, said in debate before the vote. “The consequence of acting on the false premise would be catastrophic for health.”

The bill is H.R. 2250.

--Editors: Judy Pasternak, Steve Geimann

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Drajem in Washington at mdrajem@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Geimann at sgeimann@bloomberg.net


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