EPA Proposed Changes for Plywood, Composites

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed amendments to the 2020 National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Plywood and Composite Wood Products (PCWP).

The EPA proposes maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for:

    •  Acetaldehyde, acrolein, formaldehyde, methanol, phenol, and propionaldehyde from fiberboard mat dryers at existing sources, hardboard press pre-dryers at existing sources; and atmospheric refiners at new and existing sources; Methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) from tube dryers, reconstituted wood products presses, and miscellaneous coating operations at new and existing sources; and
    • Non-mercury metals, mercury (Hg), hydrogen chloride (HCl), dioxin/furan (D/F), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) from direct wood-fired dryers.

The agency is also proposing annual burner-tune up standards for all direct-fired PCWP dryers, direct-fired lumber kilns, and associated combustion unit bypass stacks.

The EPA estimates the proposed amendments would have a total annual cost to industry of approximately $51 million per year.

Jackson Morrill, president and CEO of the American Wood Council (AWC), said the wood products industry installed expensive control technologies to comply with 2004 regulations and saw over 90 percent emissions reductions from regulated wood presses and dryers.

“While AWC continues to evaluate the proposed rule, we’re disappointed that EPA didn’t take advantage of the flexibility provided in the statute to come up with a more targeted proposal that minimizes burdens,” said Morrill. “EPA has proposed very stringent limits on biomass dryers and requirements on other low-emitting equipment that, by EPA’s own estimates, will add tens of millions in additional costs to the industry when the agency concluded in 2020 that risks to the public are acceptable.”

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The proposed rule would impact almost 700 lumber kilns, according to Morrill. Instead, they need “simple compliance procedures that are tied back to the existing, extensive obligations to meet lumber grading standards in the marketplace that also minimize emissions,” he said.

“We’re also concerned that there may be unintended consequences that would ultimately incentivize mills switching from biomass dryers to those that rely on fossil fuels, resulting in more greenhouse gas emissions.”