March 31, 2012

Maine Voices: Collins takes unfair hits over common-sense Boiler MACT legislation

Her proposal would make possible regulations that protect both public health and thousands of jobs.

By Keith Van Scotter, Mark Gardner and Mike Jackson, paper mill executives

Recent claims full of hyperbole by some in the pages of The Portland Press Herald have sought to create their own facts regarding Sen. Susan Collins' Boiler MACT legislation. Those who purport to want the regulations are precisely the ones who have drawn out the process and had the previous rules vacated by the courts. Put simply – Collins has shown true leadership toward allowing for the rules to be actually implemented.

click image to enlarge

People who believe that Sen. Susan Collins’ proposal would indefinitely delay the regulation of industrial boilers overlook the fact that special interest groups have already stalled such rules, paper mill executives say.

1996 Press Herald File Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Keith Van Scotter is president and CEO of Lincoln Paper & Tissue; Mark Gardner is president and CEO of Sappi Fine Paper-North America, and Mike Jackson is president and CEO of Verso Paper.

The facts are that these boilers do have controls in place, many companies having made investments to be compliant with the previous Boiler MACT rules only to have them vacated in the final months. Those investments are still in place. Those of us in the paper industry stand ready to comply with regulations that can actually be achieved.

The Environmental Protection Agency's proposal last year overshot the mark, which was confirmed by the agency's re-proposing the rules. Collins' legislation has been a driving force toward making possible regulations that allow protection of public health and jobs to work together.

What the senator's bill actually served to do, contrary to the accusations of some, is to put in place parameters that allow the implementation of the controls that are needed. What good are regulations if the technology either doesn't exist to meet them or is not readily available in time to meet the strict deadlines? Not much.

Collins is to be commended for spearheading the bipartisan legislation, which has garnered 12 Democratic co-sponsors. The bill provides two years' additional compliance time to ensure the controls that are needed can actually be fulfilled – a common-sense solution.

The legislation further provides that biomass residuals are to be regulated as fuels, which has been traditionally the case and which the EPA has stated was its intent – another common-sense solution. Finally, the bill states the rules should be achievable – is this really fodder for an argument?

Wild claims don't help the public discourse if true results are desired. Collins has a long track record of representing the interests of Mainers, and that is only bolstered by her leadership on this issue.

Those who decry the bill and say that it would delay Boiler MACT rules indefinitely just aren't listening and haven't paid attention.

These rules have been stalled for years or even decades already because of the overreaching by special interest groups and activist courts. The EPA's excessive offering in 2010 delayed the benefits of having such rules for nearly two years, but that is not mentioned by those with an ax to grind.

The more we are distracted from developing realistic regulations that real-world boilers can meet so that additional protections are put in place, the more delay there is apt to be.

Legislation is not needed to delay Boiler MACT rules – the current regulatory process of proposal followed by litigation has provided that result. We believe in protecting the public health because – you guessed it – we are part of the public as well.

Furthermore, Collins realizes that protecting public health in a way that also protects jobs is a better result. She has put forward a bill that would try to bring a definite conclusion to this process and deliver the business and legal certainty that make possible the protection of public health.

We are an industry of people – nearly 18,000 strong in Maine alone. We work to provide decent lives for our families and produce products used by all. We want clean air to breathe and an opportunity to make our living.

We don't need more inflammatory rhetoric; we need the kind of results that the senator's bill would provide. Collins has done and is doing the right thing for our state and our nation.

 

- Special to The Press Herald

 

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