EPA Plans to Clarify Biomass as a Fuel Not a Waste

Date: October 19, 2011

Source: News Room

EPA is planning to revise its regulation defining biomass as a fuel subject to its boiler air toxics rule rather than a waste subject to stricter emissions limits for incinerators. On Oct. 14 in a letter to Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said her agency will revise its rule defining which non-hazardous secondary materials are considered solid waste when burned in combustion units to define biomass as fuel, as part of broader revisions to its stayed boiler maximum achievable control technology (MACT) air toxics rule and strict emissions limits for commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators (CISWI).

Jackson said that the pending biomass definition rulemaking — which the agency is yet to launch — “would provide certainty to industry by codifying provisions to avoid creating disincentives for burning clean materials, such as biomass, for fuel, while preserving the public-health protections required by the Clean Air Act.”

The non-hazardous materials rule is fundamental to both air regulations because it determines whether units are subject to the MACT or CISWI depending on what they burn. EPA’s materials rule released in February opened the door to some types of biomass being classified as a non-hazardous waste. Industry and some lawmakers, including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) say that this definition would harm the biomass energy industry and lumber and wood products mills that burn biomass to operate.

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