The BRICK Act will help preserve America’s brick manufacturing industry and its 7,000 jobs from an EPA rule that has yet to withstand judicial scrutiny.
BACKGROUND: Last September, the EPA finalized National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Brick and Structural Clay Products Manufacturing and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Clay Ceramics Manufacturing, commonly known as Brick MACT. In the rule, EPA set stringent standards for brick industry emissions of mercury and non-mercury hazardous air pollutants as well as health-based standards for acid gases. Regulated brickmaking facilities have three years to comply. These entities, many of which are small businesses, have expressed serious concerns about their ability to meet the requirements in the timelines imposed and are challenging the rule in federal court.
EPA estimates industry-wide annual compliance costs of approximately $25 million, but industry estimates are that the costs may be as much as $100 million per year. For a facility with two kilns (the industry average), the cost of compliance is estimated at $4.4 million. The industry cumulatively employs about 7,000 people at more than 70 brick plants and supporting facilities nationwide. The mercury reductions from this rule have been estimated by EPA to be 147 pounds annually, nearly one hundred times less than similar standards applicable to power plants.
EPA previously promulgated Brick MACT standards in 2003. That rule was vacated by a federal court in 2007, but by that time many brick manufacturers had already undertaken expensive and irreversible compliance measures. Brick manufacturers are concerned that the same situation is unfolding and that the current rule will impose significant costs and potentially force plant shutdowns, all before the legality of the rule is determined. The industry response to the 2003 rule reduced emissions by an estimated up to 95 percent per facility, and the current Brick MACT standards use the previous reductions in its baseline.
WHAT THE ACT WILL DO:
Extend Compliance Dates: The bill would extend the rule’s compliance dates pending the completion of judicial review.