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RMA says EPA should re-define TDF

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Which non-hazardous materials are solid waste and which aren't as it pertains to fuel? The United States Environmental Protection Agency is proposing such a definition. The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) is opposing it.

First, the EPA version of the issue (focusing on tire-derived fuels).

"On Jan. 2, 2009, the United States Environmental Protection Agency issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to solicit comment on which non-hazardous secondary materials that are used as fuels or ingredients in combustion units are solid wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The meaning of 'solid waste' as defined under RCRA is of particular importance since it will determine whether a combustion unit is required to meet emissions standards for solid waste incineration units issued under section 129 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) or emissions standards for commercial, industrial, and institutional boilers issued under CAA section 112.

"CAA section 129 states that the term 'solid waste' shall have the meaning 'established by the administrator pursuant to (RCRA).' EPA is proposing a definition of non-hazardous solid waste that would be used to identify whether non-hazardous secondary materials burned as fuels or used as ingredients in combustion units are solid waste. EPA is also proposing that non-hazardous secondary materials that have been discarded, and are therefore solid wastes, may be rendered products after they have been processed (altered chemically or physically) into a fuel or ingredient product.

"This proposed rule is necessary to identify units for the purpose of developing certain standards under sections 112 and 129 of the CAA.

"In addition to this proposed rule, EPA is concurrently proposing air emission requirements under CAA section 112 for industrial, commercial, and institutional boilers and process heaters, as well as air emission requirements under CAA section 129 for commercial and industrial solid waste incineration units."

(To see the proposal in its entirety, visit 75 Federal Register 31844. The Docket Identification Number is EPA-HQ-RCRA-2008-0329.)

Next, the RMA version of the issue.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a rule that would significantly harm the existing infrastructure that manages scrap tires as well as reverse two decades of environmental cleanup success, according to the RMA.

"After decades of EPA-sanctioned use as a supplemental industrial fuel, EPA is proposing now to declare whole scrap tires a solid waste. The new designation would require facilities using whole tire-derived fuel (TDF) to add costly new emission controls that would not be required to burn traditional, less efficient fuels.

"Instead of this option, many TDF users likely will opt to stop using TDF in favor of more costly, less efficient and higher emitting traditional fossil fuels, including coal. This will likely result in a dramatic reduction of TDF use while driving tens of millions of scrap tires back to landfills, stockpiles and illegal dumping sites."

"At the same time, EPA will still allow the use of processed scrap tires to be used as fuel only if most of the  steel content is removed, which would add costs to TDF use for facilities such as cement kilns, and increase the amount of energy needed and air pollutants emitted to supply TDF to these facilities. Steel content in tires does not affect overall emissions when consumed as TDF. Instead, the steel is used as a raw material in the manufacture of cement."

Tracey Norberg, RMA senior vice president has this to say.

"EPA’s proposed regulatory scheme would devastate the tire-derived fuel market in the U.S. which will ripple across the entire scrap tire market infrastructure. Worse, the proposal will drive scrap tires back to stockpiles and illegal tire dumps after two decades of success in cleaning up stockpiles and promoting safe, viable, effective markets for scrap tires.”

Scrap tire management is an environmental success story in the U.S.  In 1990, more than one billion tires were stockpiled across the country, while only 11% of annually generated scrap tires were reused, according to RMA data. Today, fewer than 100 million tires remain stockpiled and nearly 90% of annually generated scrap tires are reused.

RMA estimates that each year, about 300 million scrap tires are generated in the U.S. Of those, about 52% are used as TDF in the cement industry, pulp and paper mills and by some utility and industrial boilers.

RMA advocates that EPA should consider TDF an historical fuel, regardless of whether the scrap tires have been discarded, which would allow states to continue to regulate those scrap tires not used as TDF under state waste management regulations.

Alternatively, RMA supports an approach initially outlined by EPA in January 2009 that would have allowed annually generated scrap tires to be continue to be used as a fuel, but stockpiled scrap tires would be considered “discarded” and therefore be a solid waste subject to new emission controls if combusted.

“EPA should reconsider this deeply flawed, anti-environment, anti-business and anti-common sense proposal,” adds Norberg.

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