Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | May 5, 2009

Kentucky environmental attorney Sanders says US EPA will withdraw the Emission Comparable Fuels Rule.

U.S. EPA is planning to propose a rule to withdraw the Emission Comparable Fuels (ECF) rule, which became effective on January 20, 2009. The proposal will present the agency’s concerns and request comments from the public after publication in the Federal Register, planned for November 2009. After evaluating the public comments, the EPA will make a decision on whether to repeal the exclusion.

The ECF rule removed regulatory costs by reclassifying certain manufacturing byproducts as non-wastes. ECF is fuel that is produced from a hazardous waste, but which generates emissions when burned in an industrial boiler that are comparable to emissions from burning fuel oil. The materials must also be stored under an elaborate set of requirements. 

The final rule has been criticized for allowing hazardous waste to evade the hazardous waste regulatory system, and also for being difficult to administer. Industry members have also criticized it because of the detailed and prescriptive conditions for reclassification, which they believe will limit the rule’s use.

This move is not wholly unexpected.  Any reasonable person who is knowledgeable in this area of law will tell you, if speaking honestly and perhaps off the record, that this rule was absolutely inconsistent with the basic tenets of environmental law.  It would however allow companies to dispose of vast amounts of hazardous waste and material via burning them in a boiler to recover the energy value of the material.  That might seem like a good idea unless you live, work or happen to be downwind of the boiler’s emission point. 

Another mind numbing “boner” from former U.S. EPA Administrator Steven Johnson going into the trash can.

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