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EPA To Exercise Enforcement Discretion on Boiler MACT Deadlines

Posted in Federal Regulation

From Michael Cooke of GT Tampa:

On Wednesday, January 18th, by letter to Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the EPA advised that it would exercise enforcement discretion with respect to the 2011 notification deadlines for existing boilers and incinerators that have passed while the EPA’s administrative stay of its March 2011 new rules has been pending. This step is being taken due to the January 9, 2012, decision of U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman which vacated the administrative stay, a decision I discussed in my previous post. After analyzing the court’s decision, EPA has stated that it will issue a “no action assurance letter” shortly that informs sources it will not enforce any of the notification requirements for new or existing boilers that arise under the 2011 rule.   The EPA letter further states that it believes that noncompliance by existing sources with the 2011 rule “would be unlikely to warrant” civil enforcement action by third parties, but, in any event, such an action would require 60-days prior notice to EPA which would give EPA sufficient time to take further steps to address those impacts. With respect to new boilers and incinerators, the EPA concludes that there are no sources subject to requirements other than the notification obligations which now are being reconsidered. But EPA noted that, if it becomes aware of other permitting or compliance challenges for new sources as a result of the stay being vacated, EPA will issue a 90-day stay under the Clean Air Act or a longer stay under the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”) consistent with the district court’s opinion on stays under the APA. Finally, the letter states that EPA recognizes that industry needs sufficient time to comply with these standards and that, subject to public comment, EPA intends to reset the “compliance clock” when it finalizes the rules which it reproposed last December.