To protect thousands of American jobs and preserve domestic cement manufacturing, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 2681, the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act. The measure passed the House on October 6, 2011, with strong bipartisan support by a vote of 262 to 161.
H.R. 2681, authored by Reps. John Sullivan (R-OK) and Mike Ross (D-AR), will protect the domestic cement manufacturing industry from costly new rules issued by the EPA, which threaten widespread plant closures and thousands of American jobs. This legislation provides a remedy to EPA’s flawed Cement MACT rules with a directive to EPA to propose achievable standards and timelines. This legislation will ensure public health and the environment is protected without sacrificing jobs.
EPA estimated the Cement MACT final rules would affect approximately 100 cement plants and impose total capital costs of $2.2 billion with an annualized cost of $337 million. The Portland Cement Association (PCA) estimated even higher compliance costs at $3.4 billion for cement kilns and an additional $2 billion to comply with incinerator requirements. The association also projected the potential shutdown of almost 20 percent of the domestic manufacturing industry. Over 20,000 jobs could be lost due to plant closures and increased construction costs. Although EPA is reconsidering aspects of the rules, the agency’s proposed revisions, if finalized, would continue to impose high costs and standards and compliance timeframes that may not be realistic for many facilities.
H.R. 2681 calls for common-sense regulations that set achievable standards and will give businesses the flexibility they need to comply with the rules. Specifically, the legislation will:
- Provide EPA with 15 months to re-propose and finalize achievable rules for cement manufacturing facilities;
- Extend compliance deadlines from 3 to at least 5 years to allow facilities adequate time to comply with standards and install necessary equipment;
- Direct EPA, when developing the new rules, to adopt definitions that allow cement manufacturing plants to continue to use alternative fuels for energy recovery; and,
- Direct EPA to ensure that new rules are achievable by cement manufacturing facilities in the United States and impose the least burdensome regulatory alternatives consistent with the President’s Executive Order 13563.