Representatives in the House and Senate are urging Congressional leaders to enact legislation that would call for the Environmental Protection Agency to re-propose and finalize new “achievable” rules for cement manufacturing facilities that will not have the same crippling impact as the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) rules that are now on the books.
Legislation was introduced in the House last Thursday that would provide the EPA with at least 15 months to re-propose and finalize achievable rules for cement manufacturing facilities. The legislation also calls for extending the compliance deadline from 2013 to at least three to five years and redirecting the EPA in developing new rules.
In addition, 24 Senators presented a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last Wednesday, requesting that the leadership consider balanced legislation that gives cement producers sufficient time to recover from the recession and comply with regulations. The letter notes that if Congress does not act, this single EPA rule change could cost the industry $3.4 billion in compliance cost, representing approximately half of the industry’s annual revenues.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., issued a statement announcing the effort by the representatives and cited the support of cement manufacturers across Pennsylvania, where he estimated that the new regulations could impact almost 2,000 workers in 11 different cement plants across Pennsylvania. Here are the quotes cited by Toomey:
- "As a direct consumer of cement, for the manufacturing of bridge beams across the East Coast, I find this latest round of actions by the EPA deplorable. The general concern for American manufacturing does not exist through the EPA's actions.... Industry and the environment can be balanced by cost and benefits without sacrificing the American way of life as we know and need it to be," said Michael Hawbaker, vice president of Northeast Prestressed Products in Cressona.
- “The domestic cement industry cannot afford to comply with these requirements at this time. The loss of any more production now will put all construction at risk.... We at Eagle Concrete Products appreciate Sen. Toomey's leadership on this issue," said Bruce Hottle, president of Eagle Concrete Products in Somerset.
- “Essroc is encouraged by Sen. Toomey's efforts on behalf of the cement industry. We trust that his actions and the actions of other members of the Senate result in a change in the NESHAP rule by EPA and a more equitable resolution with longer timelines for implementation," said Jeremy Black, plant manager at Essroc Cement in Nazareth.
- “Buzzi Unicem appreciates and supports Senator Toomey's effort in seeking an extension to the compliance deadline of the NESHAP rule. We believe EPA needs more time to thoroughly work through their reconsideration of these new regulations. Additionally, this extension will provide our industry with the time needed to make significant compliance investments during these historically challenging economic times," said Richard Zimmel, plant manager at Buzzi Unicem USA in Stockertown.
- “CEMEX believes EPA's costly NESHAP rule is the wrong rule at the wrong time. We urge Sen. Toomey and his fellow senators to ensure that the rule does not jeopardize the U.S. cement manufacturing industry and cause the loss of high paying manufacturing jobs. In this economy, those jobs will be very hard to replace," said James Capalbo, terminal manager at CEMEX, Inc., in Wampum.
- “Lafarge supports Sen. Toomey's efforts to encourage the EPA to provide relief to the industry until the Cement MACT rule can be revised to be more achievable," said Terry Bennett, plant manager at Lafarge Whitehall Cement Plant in Whitehall. "Given the current economic conditions, implementing the Cement MACT in its current form will cause or contribute to temporary or permanent cement plant closures and the loss of good paying manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania and around the United States."
- “The company appreciates Sen. Toomey's efforts on behalf of the cement industry. We hope his efforts and those of his colleagues result in legislation that will provide an opportunity for EPA to generate a better, fairer and more achievable NESHAP rule," said Mike Gonzales, plant manager at Lehigh Hanson, Inc., in Fleetwood.
- “The impact that the new regulation will have on an industry that is suffering through a severe downturn will undoubtedly be negative on both the companies and their employees. I appreciate Sen. Toomey fighting to stop these dire consequences," said David G. Sciamanna, president of the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce.
Tune in tomorrow when we will post the entire contents of Sen. Toomey’s letter.