EPA Proposes Important New Clean Air Safeguards for Industrial Incinerators and Boilers

Dec 2, 2011 | What's New


In a long awaited move, EPA has announced important new safeguards that will save thousands of lives by cleaning up some of the most polluting industrial emitters. EPA’s proposed standards will specifically address industrial incinerators and boilers, most of which are found in oil refineries and chemical plants, and which emit toxic air pollution from soot to mercury to lead. These emissions contribute to cancer, learning difficulties in children, and heart problems.

Boilers are powered by a variety of fuels including coal, oil, natural gas, and biomass, and generally power heavy machinery or are used to heat buildings.  It’s remarkable that most of the pollution from this sector comes from a small fraction of the facilities — EPA estimates less than 1% of boilers will need new pollution controls. But these facilities create enough pollution to cause thousands of asthma attacks, heart attacks and even deaths.  Another 195,000 smaller boilers would be able to meet the rule through routine tune-ups.

Incinerators are used to burn solid waste, and the proposal would tighten the types of waste that can be burned.

Interfaith Power & Light applauds the EPA for doing the right thing in the face of industry opposition, which has kept this standard from being updated for two decades. Since the new rule was released last year, EPA has provided additional flexibility to industry, cutting the cost of compliance in half. After a 60 day public comment period which is expected to begin in early January, we hope these safeguards will be finalized and implemented without further changes or delay.

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