A.B.A. cautions E.P.A. on regulating rising dough
June 21, 2012
by Ron Sterk
WASHINGTON — The American Bakers Association told the House Energy and Power Subcommittee on June 19 that the E.P.A.’s proposed lowering of the Clean Air Act threshold for CO2 emissions under the Tailoring Rule would have a devastating impact on the baking industry.
“If the Clean Air Act CO2e trigger thresholds are lowered from 100,000 tons per year (t.p.y.) to 250 tons, many more bakeries will be subject to expensive and unnecessary Title V requirements and prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) regulations,” Robb MacKie, A.B.A. president and chief executive officer, testified before the Subcommittee. He noted about 20% of the baking industry now has Title V permits, and that many bakers have accepted federally enforceable limits on production to minimize their emissions and to avoid the cost and regulatory burden of the Title V permit program.
“If the potential CO2e emissions threshold is lowered to 250 t.p.y., a much larger portion of the baking industry could be forced into the Title V process,” Mr. MacKie said. “This would needlessly increase compliance costs, seriously constrict baker’s ability to respond to market demand and potentially require expensive controls on CO2 emissions despite the industry already relying upon clean natural gas for its ovens.”
Mr. MacKie said the E.P.A. would likely take the position that its PSD regulations also cover so-called “biogenic” CO2 processes, including the natural fermentation of yeast from rising bread dough.
“In 2009, Administrator (Lisa) Jackson promised that E.P.A. would not regulate ‘every cow and Dunkin Donuts,’ but that is what would happen if bakers need to consider their CO2 emissions from dough,” Mr. MacKie said. “Yeast cells, which are living organisms, help dough rise and create CO2 as a byproduct, like we do when we breathe.”
The E.P.A.’s potential lowering of its regulatory thresholds combined with the costs of Title V permitting and PSD rules could be economically devastating for bakers, the A.B.A. said. The organization noted the food industry represents less than two tenths of 1% of emissions contributing to climate change, according to the E.P.A.’s own calculations, and bakers are only a fraction of the food processing sector.
The A.B.A. said costs of the new requirements were unknown. The group cited an example where the E.P.A. and state environmental agencies regulations on natural ethanol emissions from yeast may cost bakers as much as $80,000 per ton removed, which contrasts sharply with less than $1,000 per ton to scrub sulfur from a coal-fired power plant and $80 per ton to dispose of municipal garbage.
“E.P.A.’s Tailoring Rule would disproportionately impact the baking industry — both large and small bakers would be burdened in the midst of a weak economy,” Mr. MacKie said.
“The bottom line is that the cost of overly-broad proposed rules that regulate natural, agricultural-related CO2 will force American families to pay more for baked goods,” Mr. MacKie said.
The A.B.A. represents more than 700 baking facilities and suppliers in the United States. The baking industry generates more than $10 billion in annual economic activity and employs over 630,000 people.