Four New Rules Will Reduce Hazardous Air Emissions

February 27, 2004

Rules requiring four industries to upgrade their facilities by installation of Maximum Achievable Control Technologies (MACTs) were announced last week by EPA. The new MACT standards are estimated to reduce national emissions of toxic air pollutants by 88,000 tons per year within five years.

The four rules complete the application of technology based national emissions standards called for under the 1990 Clean Air Act. With these rules, EPA has issued 96 MACT standards to reduce toxic emissions from over 160 categories of industrial sources. When fully implemented, these rules collectively will reduce 1.7 million tons per year of toxic air emissions compared to the 1990 baseline emissions.

The MACT rules announced cover: Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters; Plywood and Composite Wood Products; Stationary Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines (RICE), and Automobile and Light Duty Trucks Manufacturing (Surface Coating).

Boiler MACT: Boilers and process heaters are used at facilities such as refineries, chemical and manufacturing plants, and paper mills and may stand alone to provide heat for shopping malls and university heating systems. Boilers burn coal and other substances to produce steam which is then used to produce electricity or provide heat. Process heaters heat raw or intermediate materials during an industrial process. EPA estimates the rule will apply to 58,000 existing boilers and process heaters as well as the 800 new boilers and process heaters that will be built each year over the next five years. The boiler MACT rule is estimated to substantially reduce these facilities emissions of a number of toxic air pollutants including hydrogen chloride, manganese, lead, arsenic and mercury. EPA estimates total annual air toxic reductions of over 50,600 tons per year in the fifth year after the rule takes effect. This final rule will further protect human health and the environment by reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter (PM) in conjunction with the air toxic reductions. EPA estimates SO2 reductions between 49,000 - 113,000 tons per year and PM (measured as coarse particulate matter) reductions between 547,000 - 562,000 tons in the fifth year after promulgation.

Plywood MACT: The plywood MACT covers about 220 facilities that manufacture plywood and veneer; particleboard; medium density fiberboard; hardboard; fiberboard; oriented strandboard; and engineered wood products. The final rule is estimated to reduce emissions of acetaldehyde, acrolein, formaldehyde, methanol, phenol, propionaldehyde and other toxic air pollutants between 6,600 - 11,000 tons per year, or a 35 to 58 percent reduction from 1997 levels. The final plywood rule is also estimated to reduce the emissions of volatile organic compounds to between 14,000 - 27,000 tons per year, or a 28 to 52 percent reduction from 1997 levels. Volatile organic compounds contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog.

Auto Coatings MACT: Automobile and light-duty truck surface coating operations refer to the application of decorative, protective, or functional coatings to new automobile and light-duty truck bodies and body parts. Coating materials include such things as primer, primer-surfacer, topcoat, sealer, sound deadener, and windshield primer and adhesive. Automobile and light-duty truck surface coating operations emit a number of toxic air pollutants including xylenes, toluene, ethyl benzene, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, methyl ethyl ketone, and methyl isobutyl ketone. The MACT rule is estimated to reduce total emissions of these air toxics by approximately 6,000 tons per year, a 60 percent reduction from the estimated 1997 baseline.

RICE MACT: Stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE) are used at facilities such as pipeline compressor stations, chemical and manufacturing plants, and power plants. EPA estimates that 1,600 new stationary RICE will be affected each year. In addition, about 1,800 existing stationary RICE may potentially be subject to the rule. The final rule is estimated to reduce emissions of 5,600 tons/year of toxic air pollutants such as formaldehyde, acrolein, methanol, and acetaldehyde. In addition, the emissions of nitrogen oxides and PM are estimated to be reduced by 160,000 tons and 3,700 tons respectively.

To ensure that the public health benefits associated with two of these rules (Boiler and Plywood MACTs) are achieved in the most cost-effective way possible, EPA is providing alternative compliance options in certain cases where the risks posed by the emissions are very small. To qualify for these alternative approaches, the industrial source in question would have to demonstrate that the risks are small. Facilities that qualify for the alternative compliance options must assume federally enforceable emissions limitations. These limits ensure that their air toxics emissions do not exceed levels used to qualify for the compliance alternative.

EPA is required by the Clean Air Act (CAA) to regulate the emissions of 188 listed toxic air pollutants. The 1990 CAA Amendments charged EPA to identify industrial or source categories that emit one or more of the toxic air pollutants. Once identified, EPA developed regulations that required stringent air pollution reduction measures for each source category. The 1990 Amendments required an aggressive schedule for EPA to control emissions of the listed pollutants from over 170 sources. This action marks the completion of the MACT standard rule-making process. Copies of the recently signed standards and fact sheets are available at under "Recent Actions."

Texas Man Sentenced for Not Reporting Hazardous Waste Importation Scheme

Victor Manuel Arroyo Balderas, warehouse coordinator for Encon Environmental Services, El Paso, Texas, was sentenced on Feb. 12, 2004 to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay a $1,500 fine for intentionally not telling authorities about a criminal scheme involving the importation of hazardous waste into the United States in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The scheme began in 1995 and involved the illegal importation of hazardous wastes, including mercury-contaminated soil, into the United States from Mexico. The wastes were illegally stored at several Encon facilities in El Paso.

Failing to properly dispose of mercury-contaminated wastes can lead to human contact with mercury which, depending on the amount and variances in individual rates of absorption, can cause severe neurological damage and, in some cases, death. The case was investigated by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division's Dallas Area Office, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the FBI. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in El Paso.

Egg Producer Agrees to Dramatic Air Pollution Reductions from Three Giant Facilities

Buckeye Egg Farm, L.P., the largest commercial egg producer in Ohio, has agreed to a comprehensive Clean Air Act settlement under which the company will spend more than $1.4 million to install and test innovative pollution controls to dramatically cut air emissions of particulate matter and ammonia from its three giant egg-laying facilities at Croton, Marseilles, and Mt. Victory, and pay an $880,598 civil penalty.

The settlement resolves claims filed by the United States Department of Justice on behalf of EPA alleging that Buckeye failed to obtain necessary air permits for these facilities and failed to comply with an order directing it to sample its air emissions. The settlement is contained in a consent decree lodged for public comment by the Justice Department in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

Buckeye's egg-laying operations have the capacity to house more than 12 million chickens in over 100 barns. In 2002, Buckeye's facilities produced 2.6 billion eggs, or 4 percent of the nation's total. Exterior exhaust fans surrounding the barns emit particulate matter and ammonia from the chickens. Preliminary air emission tests required by EPA indicated that air emissions of particulate matter (PM) were significant – over 550 tons/year (tpy) from the Croton facility, over 700 tpy from the Marseilles facility, and over 600 tpy from the Mt. Victory facility. Many scientific studies have linked particulate matter to aggravated asthma, coughing, difficult or painful breathing, chronic bronchitis and decreased lung function, among other ailments (see Buckeye also reported ammonia emissions of over 800 tpy from its Croton facility, over 375 tpy from the Marseilles facility, and nearly 275 tpy from the Mt. Victory facility. Ammonia is a lung irritant.

While Buckeye recently sold its three facilities to Ohio Fresh Eggs LLC, the settlement requires Buckeye to bind the purchaser to implement the environmental improvements required under the consent decree. Buckeye remains liable for any violations.

Under the consent decree, Buckeye must install a particulate impaction system in each of its barns at the Marseilles and Mt. Victory facilities to capture particulate matter before it is vented to the outside. It will also use enzyme additive products on the manure accumulated in the layer barns to reduce ammonia emissions by at least 50 percent. Additional controls are required if dust or ammonia emissions are not satisfactorily reduced. The combination of particulate and ammonia controls at these facilities is also expected to reduce substantially fly infestations, which have been a subject of repeated state and private litigation against Buckeye.

The Croton facility is required by the state of Ohio to install belt battery manure handling systems at its layer barns over the next five years. Because of this requirement, the consent decree requires alternative controls for the Croton facility. These include changes in bird variety and feed, which are expected to reduce both particulate matter and ammonia emissions. The consent decree requires extensive testing of these measures. If they are not successful, Buckeye will be required to install particulate impaction systems and other appropriate PM controls for the converted barns. The barns will also be treated with the enzyme product for ammonia control.

In July 2003, the state of Ohio revoked Buckeye's operating permits and cited Buckeye nine times for contempt due to its continuing failure to comply with a state consent order requiring facility improvements. Buckeye appealed the state action but lost in mid-October. The company began closing its barns on Nov. 20 and the Marseilles facility is now closed. Under the settlement, the new purchaser, Ohio Fresh Eggs, which has now received operating permits from the state of Ohio, will be able to open the barns, but must comply with environmental controls imposed by the consent decree.

Comments on this consent decree will be received for 30 days.

Energy Savings Anticipated By More Efficient Power Supplies For Small Electronics

A proposal for efficiency specifications and a test procedure for single voltage external AC/DC power supplies, commonly known as external "power packs," were unveiled at an electronics conference in Anaheim, Calif., on Feb. 23, 2004. The work builds on EPA's efforts through the ENERGY STAR program to capture additional environmental benefits and energy efficiency in both active and standby modes across a wide variety of consumer electronics and office equipment.

External power supplies convert AC power from a wall outlet into lower voltage DC power for use in cordless tools and telephones, cell phones, and many other consumer and office products. With more than a billion external power supplies shipped worldwide each year, this industry offers significant energy savings potential. In the U.S., the total amount of electricity that flows through external and internal power supplies is more than 207 billion kwh/year (worth about $17 billion/year), or about six percent of the national electric bill. More efficient designs could save an estimated 15 to 20 percent of that energy.

EPA's unified energy-efficiency test procedure, developed in consultation with several international partners, will ensure comparability of efficiency data, lower participation/compliance costs, and other positive benefits to industry participants and policy makers worldwide. Through international coordination, the ENERGY STAR program hopes to expand the market for highly energy-efficient power supplies, and strengthen the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.

Through ENERGY STAR, EPA intends to create strong market incentives to enable the power supply industry to improve availability and the use of energy-efficient power supply options – thereby recognizing significant energy and environmental savings. The test procedure is the first step towards accomplishing that goal. In addition, EPA's draft ENERGY STAR specification for single voltage external AC/DC power supplies will address both active and standby mode efficiency. The draft specification will be available for review and comment via the ENERGY STAR website

The California Energy Commission and EPA also jointly announced an international design competition for energy-efficient power supplies at the Anaheim conference. The competition, which will extend through 2004, has also been endorsed by the Power Sources Manufacturers Association, marking a unique collaborative effort by industry and government.

EPA is closely coordinating its power supply efforts with China, a global exporter of power supplies. Additional partners include: National Appliance and Equipment Energy Efficiency Committee, Australia; Eletrobras/Procel, Brazil; Office of Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Canada; China Certification Center for Energy Conservation Products; and the California Energy Commission.

EPA Supplements Proposal to Reduce Power Plant Mercury Emissions

EPA has released a supplement to its proposed Utility Mercury Reductions rule. The supplement provides rule language for a model cap-and-trade approach that will reduce mercury emissions by 70 percent when fully implemented.

In 2018, the second phase of the mercury program sets a cap of 15 tons. The program includes a banking provision that allows for early reductions, as early as 2010, (benefiting health and the environment) and a later date when the cap will be achieved. The Utility Mercury Reductions Rule would permanently cap emissions from coal-fired power plants. EPA also proposes requirements for monitoring and reporting mercury emissions from power plants in states choosing to adopt the cap-and-trade program.

EPA will take public comments on the supplemental mercury proposal for 45 days after publication in the Federal Register. During that time, EPA will hold a public hearing to solicit comments on this proposal; the date and location of the hearing is yet to be determined.

EPA is preparing to hold three public hearings to receive comments on the proposed Utility Mercury Reductions Rule and Interstate Air Quality Rule, separate, but closely related proposals. These hearings will be held concurrently in Chicago, IL, Philadelphia, PA, and Research Triangle Park, NC on February 25 & 26, 2004.

For more information on the Utility Mercury Reductions Rule and updates on the hearing status, visit