EPA Issues Final Rule on Oil-fired Boiler and Area Source Boiler Emissions Standards

By Christopher J. Cavaiola

The EPA has established an updated alternative particulate matter standard for new oil-fired boilers that combust low-sulfur liquid fuel.  EPA also defined startup and shutdown requirements for new and existing area source boilers.  The area source boiler standards apply to roughly 183,000 boilers in the U.S.; however, only about 600 coal-burning units are subject to emissions limits.   EPA will require further performance testing for particulate matter of area source boilers every five years for certain boilers based on their initial compliance testing (rather than eliminate further performance testing for such boilers). 

Area source boilers are widely utilized, including at universities, hospitals, utilities, courthouses, religious facilities, hotels, apartment buildings, laundries and small manufacturing facilities.  This final reconsideration rule covers area source boilers at existing commercial, industrial and institutional facilities with relatively low discharges of hazardous air pollutants, and those institutions will now need to analyze whether they comply with the new emissions standards.
The Clean Air Act defines an area source facility as one that has the potential to emit less than ten tons annually of a single hazardous pollutant or less than 25 tons annually of any combination of hazardous pollutants.  EPA will conduct additional particulate matter performance testing every five years for certain boilers and annual fuel sampling for some coal fired-boilers.

This final reconsideration rule is considered a final agency action and is subject to judicial review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  The rule is set to go into effect on September 14, 2016, with its publication in the Federal Register, and all challenges to the rule must be filed with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, by November 13, 2016.

If you have questions about whether this final reconsideration rule, and its accompanying particulate matter performance testing or fuel sampling, applies to boilers at your facility, please contact Connell Foley's Environmental Law Group.