Web Date: May 6, 2009
Second Look At Exemptions
The Obama EPA is closely scrutinizing two Bush Administration rules on hazardous waste that were sought by the chemical industry. The agency is planning to repeal at least one of them.
Both regulations relaxed controls on hazardous waste and were intended to save companies money. Both took effect less than five months ago.
The agency announced on May 5 that it is planning to revoke one rule that affects the kinds of materials that companies can burn as fuel.?? The rule, which just took effect on Jan. 20, removed some byproducts of manufacturing from the agency's category of hazardous wastes.
Under this deregulatory move, companies may burn these materials, such as used solvents, in an industrial boiler. They are allowed to do so if this combustion generates amounts and types of air pollution that is comparable to emissions from the burning of fuel oil.
Previously, the byproducts had to be disposed of as hazardous waste, which may include burning in a specially licensed incinerator.
The American Chemistry Council, a major industry trade association, supported this rule, saying it promoted energy recovery from valuable, fuel-like secondary materials. ACC did not respond to C&EN's request for comment about EPA's planned repeal of the regulation.
The second rule getting EPA scrutiny allows chemical manufacturers and other businesses to sell or recycle some of the materials they formerly had to dispose of as hazardous waste. The agency said the rule, which took effect Dec. 29, 2008, would increase recycling of solvents and of metals in spent catalysts (C&EN, Oct. 13, 2008, p. 11).
EPA is now weighing possible revisions to that rule. It is doing so in response to a formal petition by the Sierra Club asking the agency to repeal the regulation.
The Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates (SOCMA) was a key supporter of this deregulation, saying it makes environmental and economic sense.
The rule, SOCMA said in a statement, saves a number of the trade group's members, which are primarily small- and medium-sized businesses, tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. "For SOCMA members, even small cost savings on individual production runs can be very significant, given the relatively smaller profit margins in the specialty batch manufacturing sector, especially during these economic times," the organization said in a statement.
Earthjustice, an environmental group, hailed EPA's move, calling it "an important step forward in restoring much-needed safeguards for communities." The organization wants the agency to overturn both rules.
- Chemical & Engineering News
- ISSN 0009-2347
- Copyright © American Chemical Society