As reported by the U.S.-based Waste Business Journal, the U.S. EPA sent to the White House for review a proposal to define non-hazardous solid waste under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA). The Act determines which materials that are burned as fuel qualify as waste and, are thus subject to stricter air rules for incinerators.
Those materials burned as fuel that are not defined as solid waste under RCRA escape regulation under the pending strict new source performance standards (NSPS) for incinerators issued under section 129 of the Clean Air Act.
Instead, they are subject to less stringent standards for boilers under section 112 of the CAA.
Industries and states worry about the negative economic impacts if materials such as tires or sewage sludge, which are often burned as fuel, become subject to stricter emissions rules that precludes their future use as fuel.
The EPA has promoted the use of tires as fuel as an environmentally sound alternative to disposal in landfills. Environmentalists complain that they emit toxic contaminants that can disproportionately impact low-income communities.
Industries have also complained that the EPA’s delay in proposing rules has stalled project investments in a poor economy and related air quality benefits achieved by moving away from fossil fuels.