BPA's Letter to Santa

By Bob Cleaves | January 05, 2012

Dear Santa,

We have been very good this year. Biomass Power Association members have generated millions of kilowatt hours from clean, renewable fuels. We have provided jobs across rural America, paid significant local property taxes and avoided millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions. But 2012 promises to be challenging. We know you can’t change the price of natural gas, or order each of the 50 states to adopt a renewable portfolio standard. But there are a few items that we know somebody of your stature can deliver, so get to work, please.

We just received the draft U.S. EPA boiler MACT rules. Was this Christmas come early or a large piece of coal? We’re not sure. This much we know—the EPA listened. The proposed Non-Hazardous Secondary Material rule includes an expanded list of feedstocks that will not be subject to the vagaries of the “legitimacy criteria” process. Of utmost importance, the type of fuels our industry consumes—forestry debris, agricultural residues, urban wood—all are considered fuels and not wastes under the draft rule. 

The draft rule also includes important changes to the boiler MACT rules. Dioxin and mercury limits are now work practice standards, and the EPA has eased the previously unworkable standard for carbon monoxide. Other aspects of the rule remain problematic, including the EPA’s “pollutant-by-pollutant” approach, which we think is fundamentally flawed.

But Santa, there is a bigger problem. And that is the uncertainty created by pending litigation in the Washington, D.C., courts. No matter how improved these rules may be, the EPA’s ability to undertake this rulemaking, which is set to be finalized in April, is being challenged in court. And as long as litigation creates uncertainty around EPA’s ability to make the changes it now has proposed, our industry is at risk. The result is a chilling effect on growth and investment.

Also, Santa, please convince the Congress this holiday season to extend 1603 and the Section 45 programs. Congressional support has resulted in thousands of new jobs in our sector, and more than $1 billion in new investment capital.

And one more thing, the next time you are in Washington, stop by the EPA and remind the rule makers of the carbon benefits of biomass. You have a lot of credibility, given your familiarity with chimneys. Maybe the red suit and beard will make a difference.

Author: Bob Cleaves
President and CEO, Biomass Power Association