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Could EPA rule affect GP mill?

If the Environmental Protection Agency moves forward with a proposed rule on industrial boilers, Georgia Pacific officials will be spending millions of dollars to comply.

Jason Daniel, manager of public affairs for Georgia Pacific, said the cost for industries to comply would be in the billions.

“If and when the proposed changes go into effect, you’re looking a billions of dollars nationwide,” Daniel said. “Based on EPA estimates, changes would cost about $9.5 billion for the industry. American Forest and Paper Association estimates about $21 billion to comply with pulp and paper industry costs to comply around $4 billion.”

The proposed rule, called the Boiler MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) for industrial boilers, was announced June 4 with a court mandate to be approved by EPA officials by Dec. 15.

Daniel said if the rule is passed in December, affected companies would have a limited amount of time to bring their equipment into compliance. “Any company impacted by the new rule would have three years to comply,” Daniel said. “We have two boilers at our local plant that would need to be brought into compliance.”

In a report released by AF&PA officials, the rule could impact as many as 17,000 employees industry-wide if the rule is ordered.

“Almost 17,000 jobs would be lost at pulp and paper mills due to the EPA’s proposed Boiler MACT rule for industrial boilers,” the report said.

AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman said the job losses would be a huge reduction in the pulp and paper sector alone. A ripple effect could see the 17,000 expected job losses to explode to nearly 72,000 jobs lost.

“The job losses shown in this study are grim and it crystallizes the potential impact of the Boiler MACT rule for our industry, Harman said. “The proposed rule would destroy jobs in our industry at a time when policymakers are rightly saying we need to preserve and grow manufacturing jobs. EPA has a choice – they can regulate in a way that protects both jobs and the environment or they can regulate in a way that sacrifices jobs.”

The proposed EPA rule includes emission limits for industrial, commercial and institutional boilers using fossil fuels and biomass. Achievment of the limits established in the rule would require installation of up to four air pollution control devices that will conflict with other existing control requirements.

Daniel said the cost of complying with the rule could cause smaller companies more problems than can be overcome. “Some smaller companies with low profit margins may be hard hit with this rule,” Daniel said. “If they don’t have the money to come into compliance, they will be forced to shut down the company.”

Although GP officials won’t say if jobs could be lost locally as a result of the impending ruling by EPA, Daniel said the company would fully comply with any EPA regulations.

“We will abide by what ever EPA designates as a rule in December,” Daniel said. “We will be in compliance so we can continue operations and continue to produce paper.”

Daniel said EPA officials have proposed similar rules in the past with unsuccessful results. “The EPA introduced a Boiler MACT rule in September 2004,” he said. “Companies would have to be in compliance by September, 2007. There was a lot of kickback because of the regulations. As a result, the EPA vacated the rule in July 2007. A lot of organizations spent millions of dollars to come into compliance with that rule and it was dropped. There were a lot of unhappy people because of that.”

Daniel said GP will begin the process of bringing boilers into compliance with the new rule if it is mandated in December.

“We are waiting to see the final draft of the rule before making any changes,” Daniel said. “But, if that rule is passed we will certainly be working to be in compliance with all EPA regulations by the deadline set by officials.”

To learn more about the effects of the proposed EPA rule, visit the AF&PA Website at www.afandpa.org.