District Court judge vacates stay of MACT rules

By Luke Geiver | January 10, 2012

U.S. District Court of D.C. Judge Paul Friedman vacated the stay on the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rules Jan. 10, declaring the stay unlawful. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had issued the suspension on certain portions of the rules May 18, 2011, over concerns that compliance with the proposed rules would be expensive or even unachievable.  

“Judge Friedman’s decision to invalidate EPA’s stay of the Boiler MACT and Incinerator rules jeopardizes jobs at a time when the economy can least afford it,” according to the American Forest & Paper Association’s president and CEO Donna Harman.

Bob Cleaves, president and CEO of the Biomass Power Association, echoed Harman’s sentiments regarding the negative impact the ruling could have on the job market, adding that the ruling shows the need for Congress to pass HR 2250, the EPA Regulatory Relief Act, which provides EPA with the time it needs to fully analyze and prepare a new rule. “It will also provide the critically needed legal and business certainty to allow proposed projects to move forward,” said Robert Glowinski, president of the American Wood Council, also noting the need for Congress to pass HR 2250.

“This ruling reiterates the need for a legislative fix to the Boiler MACT rules," said Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., a sponsor of the EPA Regulatory Relief Act. "I urge the Senate to pass the EPA Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 2250) now in order to protect thousands of American jobs.”

“The already-inadequate compliance timeframe now has been significantly impacted, making the costly and complicated task of compliance that much more confusing and difficult,” Glowinski said, adding that such confusion proves the need for legislative action.

The decision by Judge Friedman stems from the case Sierra Club vs. Lisa P. Jackson, administrator for the EPA. The Sierra Club argued that the EPA didn’t have the regulatory authority to grant a stay of the Boiler MACT rules for longer than three months. The EPA issued the stay on the rules on May 18, 2011, two days before the rules were set to go in effect. If implemented unchanged, the deadline for compliance with Boiler MACT rules would be 2014. The EPA says the rules would help avoid health issues ranging from asthma to premature deaths linked to hazardous air pollutants and emissions.