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EPA releases new Boiler MACT proposed rule

Today the EPA released a new proposal to curb air pollution from industrial boilers. It’s an update on a version released in March of 2010, but never finalized.

The agency appears to have made industry-contouring tweaks to the rule but none that have a major or overarching effect. There is a slight improvement in the health benefits of the rule—annual benefits would rise by $5 billion per year, the delay of the rule cancels some of that out. The EPA estimates that the old rule, would have provided $22 billion in health benefits in the year 2014 while the new version will earn $27 billion a year later, in 2015.

Delay is almost always costly to public health so a better path would have been to implement the rule as it was in 2010, and made these minor tweaks later.

Another important note is that the health benefits of mercury emissions reductions were never quantified so the allowance for increased mercury emissions in this new version of the rule is not accounted for in the costs. That change could be significantly worse for public health. Without that information, it’s hard to say which version would really give more net benefits.

Policy Integrity submitted public comments to the 2010 proposed rule and will be submitting updated comments to the revised version.