The EPA has responded to United Steelworker concerns and is planning to rewrite rules to allow alternative biomass fuels to be used in industrial, institutional, and commercial boilers.
The rule was originally issued on March 1, and was designed to sort out which materials would be considered fuel and which would be designated as waste.
Waste materials are more stringently regulated under the Clean Air Act than those designated as fuel under the NHSM rule as originally proposed by the EPA.
The EPA has notified the USW that its decision to re-propose significant parts of its Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials Rule (NHSM) will include redefining a variety of biofuel materials as fuel rather than waste.
The planned actions could save thousands of jobs and protect the environment by preventing millions of tons of carbon-neutral biomass materials from being diverted to landfills or vented to the atmosphere rather than be used as alternatives to fossil fuels.
"The USW would like to commend the EPA for all the hard work it has done to be responsive to our union's concerns about this rule. We are confident that EPA's proposed changes will help preserve family-wage jobs and encourage investment in technologies to make America more energy independent," USW International President Leo W. Gerard said.
"With these changes we are hopeful a legislative remedy will not be needed. Our concern with a legislative approach to address concerns about this rule and related EPA boiler rules has been that in the current climate, common sense is unlikely to prevail. Too many ideologues would want to add their baggage to the bill with provisions that would not protect our jobs or the environment."