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Four New Rules Will Reduce Hazardous Air Emissions

Release Date: 02/26/2004
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Contact: John Millett, 202-564-7842 /

02/26/2004 - Rules requiring four industries to upgrade their facilities by installation of Maximum Achievable Control Technologies (MACTs) were announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The new MACT standards will protect Americans from eye, lung, and skin irritation, liver and kidney damage, cancer, central nervous system dysfunction and other health problems by reducing national emissions of toxic air pollutants by some 88,000 tons per year within five years.

The four rules issued today complete the application of technology based national emissions standards called for under the 1990 Clean Air Act. With today’s 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.

MACT rules announced today 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 substantially reduces 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 will 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 also will reduce the emissions of volatile organic compounds 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 will 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 will reduce emissions of some 5,600 tons/year of toxic air pollutants such as formaldehyde, acrolein, methanol, and acetaldehyde. In addition, the emissions of nitrogen oxides and PM will 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. Today’s 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.’