Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent U.S. Cement Plant Shutdowns and Job Losses

July 28, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - To protect thousands of American jobs and preserve domestic cement manufacturing, bipartisan members of the U.S. House of Representatives today introduced H.R. 2681, the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011. The proposal directs EPA to develop achievable and workable standards for the nation's cement manufacturing facilities, replacing a series of complex rules affecting the sector that are projected to impose significant costs, and force plant shutdowns and job losses. The bill was offered by Reps. John Sullivan(R-OK) and Mike Ross (D-AR), together with Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Greg Walden (R-OR),  Joe Barton (R-TX), John Carter (R-TX), Charles Dent (R-PA), Dan Boren (D-OK), and Jason Altmire (D-PA).

Chief sponsor John Sullivan and the members introducing the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011 issued the following statement:

"Cement is essential for the construction of our nation's buildings, roads, bridges, tunnels, and crucial water and wastewater treatment infrastructure. This is a sector that provides jobs here at home - jobs we could lose in the face of regulations that are technically or economically unachievable. EPA's current rules threaten to shut down 20 percent of the nation's cement manufacturing plants in the next two years, sending thousands of jobs permanently overseas and driving up cement and construction costs across the country. Our goal is to ensure effective regulations that protect communities both environmentally and economically. This legislation would give EPA time to develop achievable standards that protect public health without threatening jobs or the global competitiveness of America's industries. We look forward to working with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and the administration, to see this legislation become law."

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) lent his support to the legislation, endorsing the members' bipartisan approach to protecting jobs and pursuing sensible regulations:

"I support this legislation to save jobs and preserve an important industrial manufacturing asset.  A vibrant domestic cement industry is vital not only for the U.S. construction industry, but also for our nation's economic recovery, future expansion, and job growth. The administration is regulating its way to fewer jobs at a time when millions of Americans are already out of work. This bill inserts much-needed common sense into the rulemaking process."

Background on H.R. 2681

During the past year, EPA has promulgated three interrelated, complex rules impacting the nation's approximately 100 Portland cement manufacturing facilities.  On September 9, 2010, EPA published its "National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants from the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry," commonly referred to as the "NESHAP" or the "Cement MACT" rule.  On March 21, 2011, EPA separately published its "Standards of Performance and Emissions Guidelines for Existing Sources: Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration Units," commonly known as the "CISWI Rule," and a related rule under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act addressing the definition of non-hazardous secondary material, entitled the "Identification of Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials That Are Solid Wastes," and also known as the "NHSM Rule."   
 
EPA estimates its Cement MACT rule, which requires compliance in 2013, will impose $2.2 billion in total capital costs. However, the Portland Cement Association estimates the capital costs for that rule could exceed $3.4 billion (which represents more than half the industry's annual revenues of $6.5 billion) and that the CISWI rules would impose costs of another $2 billion, bringing total industry costs to $5.4 billion in the coming years. The association projects these rules could force 18 plants to shut down by 2013, eliminating nearly 20 percent of the U.S. cement manufacturing industry. Moreover, the association projects direct job losses from plant closures associated with the combined rules could range from 3,000 to 4,000 jobs, while job losses in the construction sector could be 12,000 to 19,000 due to higher construction costs.
 
The Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act would:

"¢ Provide EPA with at least 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.

To view the "Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011," please click HERE. For background information on the legislation, please click HERE.

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