Cleaver-Brooks - Complete Boiler Room Solutions
Enews signup

Current Status of the EPA Rules for Boilers

Tip Sheet: May 2012

Key Facts

  • A facility is an area source unless it emits 10 tons or more per year of any single air toxic or 25 tons or more per year of any combination of air toxics
  • Major source facilities are subject to Boiler MACT requirements
  • Both major and area source requirements vary depending upon: the type of fuel(s) combusted, boiler commissioning date and boiler size

On March 21, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published two rules for boilers specifically designed to reduce emissions of air pollutants. These rules are known throughout the industry as: the Major Source Rule (or Boiler MACT) and the Area Source Rule.  

 

A facility is an area source unless it emits 10 or more tons per year of any single air toxic or 25 tons or more per year of any combination of air toxics. If a facility falls into one of these categories, it is considered to be a major source facility subject to Boiler MACT requirements. A comprehensive list of the regulated air toxics can be found on the EPA website. 

 

Compliance requirements for both major source and area source facilities vary depending upon: the type of fuel(s) combusted, boiler commissioning date and boiler size.  

 

The rules, as published in the Federal Register, require facilities to have already met certain criteria to be compliant.  However, throughout the past year, the EPA has petitioned the court to delay rule implementation.  These petitions have been denied.  As a result, the EPA recently issued “No Action Assurance (NAA) Letters” to both area source and major source facilities. Below are the details specific to each facility type.

 

Area Source Rule

On March 13, 2012, the EPA issued a No Action Assurance Letter to area source facilities required to conduct a boiler tune-up by March 21, 2012, under the Area Source Rule.  This means that the EPA will exercise its discretion not to pursue enforcement action against sources that failed to complete the boiler tune-up by the compliance date.  The NAA remains in effect for area source boilers until October 1, 2012, or until the effective date of a final rule, whichever comes first.  

 

Major Source Rule or Boiler MACT

On January 9, 2012, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals reinstated the original compliance date for the Boiler MACT that the EPA published in the Federal Register in March 2011.  In his ruling, District Court Judge Paul Friedman said that a delay of the rules was “arbitrary and capricious” and negated the delay.  As a result, owners and operators of certain boilers and process heaters were required to meet work practice standards outlined in the rule by March 21, 2012, and install MACT equipment by March 2014.  

 

On February. 7, 2012, the EPA responded to the ruling by issuing a No Action Assurance Letter to boiler operators of major source facilities until December. 31, 2012, or the effective date of the proposed rule, whichever comes first.  This action means that the agency will use its discretion in enforcing the Boiler MACT requirements.