EPA Delays Boiler MACT – Reaction TurboSonic

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asked a federal judge for a 15-month extension for releasing Boiler MACT.

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked a federal judge for a 15-month extension for releasing the Boiler MACT rules.

For TurboSonic Technologies (TSTA – $0.30), one of our favorite small caps, that designs and markets air pollution control technologies that help companies meet the strictest emissions regulations, this might be a temporary setback.

Summary of Boiler MACT

The EPA is required under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act to set emissions limits for hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) at major sources. These are the so-called Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rules.

The Boiler MACT applies to thousands of industrial boilers that emit, or have the potential to emit, 10 tons or more per year of any single HAP or 25 tons per year of any combination of HAPs. The rule requires each boiler at a facility to meet emission limits, operating limits and demonstrate compliance on a continuous basis.

Background

The EPA was initially required to issue Boiler MACT standards by the year 2000. After several delays, the rule was finalized on February 26, 2004.

However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a decision to vacate the Industrial Boiler MACT Rule in 2007, and the EPA was required to rewrite it and publish the rule by December 16, 2010.

More Delay

A few days before the due date, the agency asked for a 15-month extension claiming it needs more time to respond to 4,800 individual comments it received after it published a draft version of the rule.

The agency also said that the initial proposal was based on insufficient data and that it needs more time to implement a “correct” rule based on all data gathered.

Many of the comments criticized Boiler MACT saying it’s unachievable and that the cost of complying would drive companies out of business.

Others argued that the U.S. shouldn’t take the lead in this and let other nations be the first to implement strict industrial environmental rules.

My Opinion

I absolutely disagree with the above arguments to delay the implementation of Boiler MACT.

If the EPA didn’t have enough time to collect sufficient data and come to a rational decision, I wonder what they’ve been up to the past decade.

If the cost of implementing Boiler MACT makes a Company go bankrupt, it isn’t a solid Company to begin with and it will go out of business anyway. There are always reasons not to do things. I agree that Boiler MACT may cost jobs, but on the other hand, implementing these regulations will create a large number of jobs as well.

Most problems however, I have with the argument that the rule has to be postponed because the U.S. should wait and see what other countries decide to do. I mean, isn’t the United States supposed to be the leading nation of the World. And this also includes taking the environmental lead.

Taking a hesitant position will only make other countries catch up and surpass the U.S. To quote Jacob Bronowski: “The world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation.”

Conclusion

We’ll have to wait and see what the court decides.

What’s interesting is that the EPA itself, in its request offered an alternative if the Court should deny the EPA time to re-propose the Boiler MACT standards. In that case, the EPA requests that the deadline for completing its obligations be extended until June 15, 2011, to allow the Agency time to fully respond to the 4,800 individual comments received in response to the proposals.

In light of these events, we have scheduled an audio interview with Mr. Ed Spink, TurboSonic’s CEO, in which we’ll be asking for his reaction to the EPA’s request.

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