Energy / Gov. Officials / Regulation

Rep. Susan Collins: The Great Compromiser

Senator Susan Collin’s Bill S.1392 essentially does a lot of things for the EPA. First, this bill does away with four distinct rulings:

(1) the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Major Sources: Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters;

(2) the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Area Sources: Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boilers;

(3) the Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources and Emission Guidelines for Existing Sources: Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration Units;

(4) Identification of Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials That are Solid Waste.

By removing these bills, Congress has effectively removed EPA authority to regulate Major and Area source emissions (Hazardous and Non-hazardous) for Heaters, Boilers, Industry, and Commercial business. In conjunction, EPA would no longer be able to mandate what non-hazardous secondary materials they could regulate as waste and also not regulate waste incineration units, and therefore removing the overreaching EPA mandated compliance under RCRA. This being said, a lot of thought has therefore been focused on how the get the government out of industrial efficiency, while still keeping public health the main focus. Even though these regulations are repealed, stripping the EPA to promulgate rules on these aspects of legislation, new mandates were proposed. The EPA must:

(1) establish maximum achievable control technology standards, performance standards, and other requirements for hazardous air pollutants or solid waste combustion under the Clean Air Act;

(2) identify non-hazardous secondary materials that are solid waste under the Solid Waste Disposal Act for purposes of determining the extent to which such combustion units are required to meet emission standards for such pollutants;

(3) establish compliance dates for such standards and requirements after considering compliance costs, non-air quality health and environmental impacts and energy requirements, the feasibility of implementation, the availability of equipment, suppliers, and labor, and potential net employment impacts;

(4) ensure emissions standards for existing and new sources can be met under actual operating conditions consistently and concurrently with emission standards for all other air pollutants regulated by the rule for the source category;

(5) impose the least burdensome regulatory alternative for each regulation promulgated;

(6) publish a list of nonhazardous secondary materials that are not solid waste when combusted in units designed for energy recovery. Specifies material to be included in such list;

These six items essentially mandate that EPA must regulate hazards still, EPA must minimize waste generation, EPA must figure out a compliance time for these rules. These are nothing new. Essentially, this means that businesses will still be mandated to buy the necessary equipment to ensure public health safety is the top priority (as seen in 1-3). Rules 4-6, though, propose a new, interesting spin on the same legislation. Here, EPA’s over-reach is limited by ensuring operating conditions can be met, by mandating the least burdensome action be taken, and mandating that nonhazardous materials that are not secondary waste MUST be published in a defined list. If anything, these last 4 aspects of the bill are certainly an advantage to employers not included in the first bills, therefore overall allowing for a compromise. This bill allows for proper regulation by EPA, while not crushing the foot of big industry. Collins really has crafted an argument, here, to make all sides happy.

The Library of Congress ( was accessed for this information.



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