It’s not often that you’ll see the Environmental Protection Agency fighting for American businesses against the encroachment of Big Government.  Despite a recent tendency to disregard the economic impact of its most noxious regulations, the unwilling Agency is being dragged, by court order, to release its long awaited boiler-MACT rules.

The Maximum Achievable Control Technology standards in question were first announced in spring of last year. Intended to replace the previous rules, which were vacated by a D.C. circuit court in 2007, these new MACT regulations would impose exacting emissions standards upon thousands of fossil fuel and biomass-fired boilers nationwide.  The current proposal has prompted significant outcry from the business community on the grounds that the new standards are expensive and unachievable.  The Council of Industrial Boiler Owners released a study last year claiming that “every billion dollars spent on MACT upgrade and compliance costs will put 16,000 jobs at risk and reduce US GDP by as much as $1.2 billion.”

During the rules’ mandatory comment period, the EPA received a wealth of studies and expert opinions explaining the harm boiler-MACT would cause.  The Agency intentionally delayed the rulemaking process on multiple occasions to find some way of ameliorating the regulation’s worst effects.  Big Green, however, would have none of it.  The EPA’s most recent attempt to push back the due date for boiler-MACT was rebuffed by a court order in favor of the Sierra Club; if EPA administrator Lisa Jackson complies, the regulations will be released today, warts and all.

Fortunately, this particular battle has not gone unnoticed. Both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have expressed their concern over the effects of the proposed rules; on the House side, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) has offered to introduce legislation to extend the EPA’s deadline.  Here’s hoping that this issue will become a “teachable moment” for our lawmakers and regulators: don’t trust organizations that would rather have these rulings now, to the detriment of American industry, than wait for more sensible ones to come along.