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EPA Won’t Enforce Boiler Rule After Court Decision, Jackson Says

The Environmental Protection Agency pledged not to enforce its pollution standards on boilers until a reconsidered rule is issued this year, even after a court said the regulations should be put in place.

EPA will issue a “no action” letter soon for the measure introduced last year, and will give companies three years to comply after the new regulations are issued, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said yesterday in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.

“EPA recognizes that industry needs sufficient time to comply with these standards,” Jackson wrote in the letter, which was provided today to Bloomberg News.

The U.S. District Court in Washington said this month the EPA violated an order by issuing standards for boilers, used by paper plants, refiners, schools and hospitals, then delaying them to reconsider the regulations. New rules are set to be completed in May, Jackson’s deputy, Gina McCarthy, said in Washington today.

Representatives for companies such as Boise Inc. say the court decision shows that legislation is necessary.

The EPA proposal and the court’s ruling cause “enormous confusion and uncertainty,” Donna Harman, president of the American Forest & Paper Association in Washington, said in a statement. “These are multibillion-dollar investment decisions that cannot be made overnight.”

The House of Representatives passed a measure last year to block U.S. limits on air pollution from industrial boilers and to delay the replacement standards. A companion measure in the Senate has 41 co-sponsors, although prospects for a vote are uncertain, with Democrats in the majority and President Barack Obama’s administration opposed to the House bill.

Mercury, Soot

In its December proposal, the EPA estimated pollution controls at paper mills, chemical manufacturers and refineries will cost $1.49 billion a year for cleaning mercury and soot. Obama said the rule is among the most expensive regulations his administration is considering.

No new boilers are being installed that would be subject to the proposed standards, Jackson wrote in her letter. A 90-day stay will be issued if the agency finds a new boiler is subject to the rule, according to Jackson.

“We have not identified any compliance or permitting issues of concern other than administrative requirements, which we are addressing promptly,” Jackson wrote.

The bills are H.R. 2250 and S.1392

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