EPA Emission Plan Spurs Small Biz Concern

The Environmental Protection Agency is mulling over making new national emission standards (pdf) for hazardous air pollutants that could affect small businesses like auto body shops.

The new standards would primarily govern businesses that engage in paint stripping and surface coating, however, the EPA's list of some of the industries that could become regulated under its plan covers a wide spectrum. It includes entities that deal with spices and extracts as well as makers of cellphones, sporting goods and motor homes.

It also mandates that businesses ensure more accountability by doing more employee training, annual compliance reports and additional record keeping.

The goal of reducing air pollutants sounds like a good one, but the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy is raising some red flags over the EPA's proposed plan.

The EPA said it carefully considered the impact its proposed rule could have on small businesses, but in reply comments filed Oct. 25, the SBA said the EPA should rethink a few points.

EPA made its determination "that the rule would only require minimal notification, training, equipment and best management practice requirements for a total of about 9,000 facilities, totaling less than $1,000 per facility," wrote the SBA unit. "Recently, however, advocacy has learned that the rule, as proposed, could impose higher equipment costs on as many as 200,000 existing area sources, most of which are small businesses."

It also asks the EPA, among other things, to clarify that its proposed rule would "not apply to homeowners, schools and non-hobbyists stripping small items such as furniture."

The EPA estimates that about 39,000 establishments perform paint stripping and other surface coating operations in the United States. About 3,000 of the establishments strip paint and 36,000 establishments surface coat. About 35,000 of the surface coating establishments are involved in motor vehicle and mobile equipment refinishing, and employ about 263,000 people, of which about one-third are painters, according to EPA data.

The EPA is making its move partly in response to a lawsuit by The Sierra Club, which alleged that the agency failed to complete standards to reduce certain air toxins. In March 2006, a court ruled that the EPA better get moving. That court order also said the EPA must complete certain standards by Dec. 15, 2007.

If anyone wants to comment directly to the EPA on its proposal, send e-mail to a-and-r-docket@epa.gov and reference docket number EPA-HQ-OAR-2005-0526.

By Sharon McLoone |  October 29, 2007; 3:00 PM ET Regulation Legislation
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You should send people to the regulatory docket so they can read EPA's supporting information and analyses:

http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=EPA-HQ-OAR-2005-0526

Posted by: Lindemann | October 29, 2007 3:11 PM

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