The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will rule that wood debris, cellulosic biofuels and other biomass products are exempt from rules on use of recycled materials as fuel in boilers, Administrator Lisa Jackson said.
Groups led by the American Forest & Paper Association said an EPA proposal issued in March would force companies to burn oil, coal or gas instead of natural materials in their boilers or incinerators.
Jackson wrote to Senator Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican, on Oct. 14, saying the agency will issue a “clarification” on biomass as a fuel in boilers and heating units. Snowe and 10 Democrats had complained about the March proposal.
“I appreciate that EPA has agreed to our request to revise the devastating” regulation, Snowe said in a statement. Without the exemption, the rule would “have negated millions of dollars in alternative energy investments, particularly in our paper mills,” she said.
The letter is the second within a week in which Jackson has tried to assuage lawmakers about criticisms they have raised on EPA regulations. She said in a letter to Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, on Oct. 14 that the agency wouldn’t issue updated rules controlling farm dust.
EPA regulations have been under fire in Congress, where Republicans blame the agency for hampering the economy, introducing uncertainty into business and costing jobs. The House passed a measure last week to delay the entire set of pollution rules on industrial boilers.
Jackson’s letter to Snowe deals with one aspect of that issue: the use of recycled materials as a fuel source. Jackson said the EPA would revise its regulation “to avoid disincentives for burning clean materials, such as biomass, for fuel.”
In addition to exempting certain materials, the EPA will give companies a process to petition so that a fuel source is not considered solid waste.
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