Boiler Rules Hot Topic at ABMA Meeting

Feb. 1, 2012
Boiler-industry leaders from around the country gathered in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Jan. 13-16 for the American Boiler Manufacturers Association's (ABMA's)

Boiler-industry leaders from around the country gathered in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Jan. 13-16 for the American Boiler Manufacturers Association's (ABMA's) 2012 Annual Meeting.

Among the topics discussed were recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actions affecting boilers — namely, three rules intended to reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAP):

  • Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT), for industrial, commercial, and institutional boilers and process heaters at major sources of HAP (facilities with the potential to emit 10 tons of a single HAP or 25 tons of total HAP per year).

    According to James A. Eddinger, senior technical advisor for alternative energy for the EPA's Energy Strategies Group in Research Triangle Park, N.C., who spoke during the meeting of the ABMA's Commercial Systems Group, there are approximately 14,100 major-source boilers in the United States. Of those, more than 80 percent are gas-fired, while 6 percent are liquid-fuel-fired, 4.2 percent are coal-fired, and 3 percent are biomass-fired. Other fuels commonly combusted include non-hazardous secondary materials, such as tire-derived fuel and wood residuals.

    Of the 14,100 major-source boilers, 88 percent would need to follow work practices, such as annual tune-ups, while 12 percent would need to meet numeric emission limits, Eddinger said.

  • Boiler Area Source Rule, for industrial, commercial, and institutional boilers at small sources of HAP.

    Eddinger said there are approximately 187,000 area-source boilers. Ninety-two percent are liquid-fuel-fired, while 6 percent are biomass-fired, and 2 percent are coal-fired. Ninety-eight percent would need to follow work practices, while 2 percent would need to meet emission limits.

  • Clean Air Act Section 129 new-source performance standards and emission guidelines for commercial and industrial solid-waste incinerators (CISWI).

    According to Eddinger, the final rules were published on March 21, 2011, with an effective date of May 20, 2011. Concurrently, the EPA initiated a reconsideration process for each rule to address technical issues that arose from public comments and to give the public an opportunity to comment on aspects of the final rules that were not part of the proposals. On May 18, the EPA announced a stay on the effective dates of, and solicited additional information on, the Boiler MACT and CISWI rules. On Dec. 2, the EPA administrator signed reconsideration proposals. Three weeks later, on Dec. 23, the proposals were published in the Federal Register, with a public hearing set for January.

    Carol F. McCabe, Esq., of Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox LLP of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., also spoke during the meeting of the ABMA's Commercial Systems Group, discussing the “fuss” concerning the boiler rules.

    McCabe cited the following 2010 EPA estimates of the economic impacts of Boiler MACT:

  • Capital-cost expenditures of more than $9.5 billion for control equipment by 2013.

  • Annualized costs of compliance of more than $2.9 billion.

  • Total net benefits of $17 billion to $41 billion in 2013.

  • Avoidance of up to 4,800 premature deaths by 2013.

Citing 2010 industry estimates, McCabe said total capital-cost expenditures resulting from the boiler rules would exceed $50 billion, and every $1 billion spent would put 16,000 jobs at risk and reduce gross domestic product by as much as $1.2 billion. Additionally, even the lowest-emitting units are not believed capable of meeting all proposed emission limits simultaneously.

McCabe summarized the ABMA's position on the issues, including:

  • Job-loss studies are flawed because they ignore new jobs that will be created as a result of the rules.

  • Standards must be achievable in practice — in establishing emission limits, the EPA should consider manufacturer-guaranteed emission levels.

  • The carbon-monoxide (CO) limit for oil-fired units does not account for load variability.

  • The CO limits are not achievable using good combustion practices.

  • Oxidation-catalyst controls have significant operational and design limitations.


Just prior to press time came the following news from Cleaver-Brooks, the Thomasville, Ga.-based provider of boiler-room products and systems:

The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated the original compliance date for Boiler MACT.

District Court Judge Paul Friedman ruled a delay of the rules was “arbitrary and capricious” and negated the delay. As a result, owners and operators of certain boilers and process heaters are required to meet work-practice standards outlined in the rule by March 21, 2012, and install MACT equipment by March 2014.

For the complete Boiler MACT rule, visit

About the Author

Scott Arnold | Executive Editor

Described by a colleague as "a cyborg ... requir(ing) virtually no sleep, no time off, and bland nourishment that can be consumed while at his desk" who was sent "back from the future not to terminate anyone, but with the prime directive 'to edit dry technical copy' in order to save the world at a later date," Scott Arnold joined the editorial staff of HPAC Engineering in 1999. Prior to that, he worked as an editor for daily newspapers and a specialty-publications company. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University.