WASHINGTON-An appeals court has granted the Rubber Manufacturers Association´s request to file a brief supporting the Environmental Protection Agency in a lawsuit involving the EPA´s definition of tire-derived fuel.
However, the case is still in its early stages, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit court has not yet set a timetable for filing amicus briefs such as the RMA´s, said Tracey Norberg, the association´s vice president of environment and resource recovery.
The case is complex because it actually is two similar lawsuits consolidated by the appeals court, according to Norberg.
The issue began last November with a suit filed by the Sierra Club, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network and the environmental law group Earthjustice. The plaintiffs asked the court to force the EPA to change its definition of TDF, waste oils, biomass and other substances burned as fuel from "industrial boilers" to "waste incinerators."
Potentially high emissions of mercury, dioxins and other toxic substances mandate treating waste substances, burned as fuel, as incinerated trash, according to the plaintiffs. "We all learned many years ago that burning our trash in the back yard was not a good idea," said Marylee Orr, executive director of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, in a news release issued at the time the suit was filed.
Changing the environmental definition of TDF, however, would create major disincentives to its use, according to Norberg.
"It would bring the whole facility under an entirely new set of regulations," she said. "It would also create a lot more permitting hurdles. Not that TDF couldn´t meet those permits, but the level of paperwork would discourage a lot of current and potential users."