The Rubber Manufacturers Association has filed a petition in federal appeals court challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's long-awaited final rule on hazardous emissions from tire manufacturing facilities.
That regulation, published July 9 in the Federal Register and effective immediately, is so stringent in places that existing emissions control equipment won't suffice to meet the new emissions limits, according to Tracey L. Norberg, RMA vice president, environmental and resource recovery. ``It all would have to be reformulated,'' Ms. Norberg said of the solvents the industry commonly uses.
The RMA filed its one-sentence petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit July 16, well in advance of the Sept. 9 deadline the EPA set for judicial review in the final rule.
According to the agency, the final rule applies to existing, new and reconstructed facilities in each of three categories: tire production, tire cord production and puncture sealant application. As in the proposed rule, the final standard exempts rubber processing facilities from emissions limits. The RMA hailed this exemption in its Jan. 25, 2001, comments to the EPA, saying it ``reflects the technical and economic infeasibility of emission reductions'' in that sector.
In the tire production subcategory, the EPA determined that retreading operations should fall under the new emissions standards, because the use of solvents, cements, vulcanizing and curing in retread operations are not significantly different from those found in new tire manufacturing.
The rule sets forth detailed lists of emissions limits and compliance requirements for the covered sources. For example, emissions of each EPA-listed hazardous air pollutant used in a tire production facility must not exceed two pounds per ton, or 1,000 grams per megagram, of total cements and solvents used at the plant.
The standard allows both pollution reduction and prevention measures for compliance. Annual compliance costs for the industry should total about $25 million, the agency said.
According to the EPA, the standard will cut tire plant emissions by more than 1,000 tons annually, or about 52 percent.
Even as it filed its petition, the RMA said it liked the basic thrust of the final rule, if not some of its provisions. The association and the agency worked together closely for six years to create the regulation, and it is ``the result of hard work and cooperation between RMA members and the EPA,'' Ms. Norberg said in a press release.
Also, issuance of the final rule relieves rubber making facilities from the burden of having to file emissions permit applications to their individual state environmental agencies, Ms. Norberg said. Most U.S. rubber manufacturers had to file the first part of the application on May 15 this year, but the more detailed and difficult version, due May 15, 2004, is now moot.
Becky MacDicken, director of government affairs for the Reston, Va.-based Tire Industry Association (TIA), told Tire Business TIA ``supports manufacturers and retreaders having the flexibility they need in the range of products used in the tire manufacturing process.
``We believe the RMA's petition for review of the EPA's final rule will keep the negotiations between EPA and the tire industry moving forward in a positive way.''
After a petition for reconsideration of a final rule is filed, the appeals court sets up a schedule for statement of issues and other portions of the case, Ms. Norberg said. It should issue the schedule within 30 days of the filing, she added.