New EPA Rules for Solid Waste Incineration at Kilns Still Suck

Among the many faux EPA outrages Big Business and House Republicans have fostered upon us, you may remember the meme that the feds were going to put thousands of hospitals and school boilers out of business with super strict new emission rules. In fact, the facilities most affected by the rules weren’t schools or hospitals. They were on-site chemical incinerators and boilers and of course, cement kilns. However, the pile of manure that was churned out enveloped the Agency and, as with the new ozone standards, made it retreat and reconsider the originally-proposed rules. Newly reconstituted, the Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration rules (CISWI) were dumped by the Administration last Friday at closing time like a late-night gangland victim at a hospital emergency room. After review, it’s easy to understand why. The rules did not go far enough for industry, which would find any regulations onerous. And in an attempt to win the business community favor, the administration gave away strict standards for particulate matter, dioxin, and toxic heavy metals like lead and cadmium. Nothing was done to narrow the broad definitions of “nonhazardous solid waste” that allows for the burning of just about everything is it gets the right exemptions, including tires, plastics garbage, car interiors, and creosote-treated wood. This is where the entire industry is headed – the grey area of these nonhazardous solid wastes – as exemplified by TXI’s “landfill in the sky” permit recently awarded by TCEQ to the company without any public notice or opportunity for comment.  And for the time being, this administrations seems happy to allow it.

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