Last week's passage of an appropriations rider halting funding to a recent emission rule-making for the portland cement industry is the first step towards regulations that protect American lives and American jobs.
Introduced by Rep. John Carter (R-TX) and Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR) the rider to the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (H.R. 1) discontinues funding to implement, administer, or enforce the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for the portland cement industry. Although domestic cement manufacturers are among the most highly regulated enterprises in the country, they are currently facing an avalanche of seven separate rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“The successful passage of Amendment 165 proves that elected officials in Washington can clear the path to restore economic growth and regulatory sanity,” Brian McCarthy, president and CEO of the Portland Cement Association (PCA) said. “Amendments such as the one introduced by Reps. Carter and Ross can help end the jobs crisis facing our industry.”
The cement industry directly provides 15,000 Americans with high-wage jobs. When allied industries are considered, it accounts for nearly $27.5 billion of the gross domestic product (GDP). However, in recent years, the industry has shed nearly 25 percent of its workforce.
The regulations, if enacted, will force the industry to shut down 18 plants—11 percent of its production—and source cement from other countries, thereby exporting U.S. jobs and importing cement from countries with lower emissions standards. In addition to further downsizing domestic payrolls and manufacturing capacity, the rule will cost $3.4 billion over a three-year period for an industry that currently generates barely more than $6.5 billion in annual revenue.
“The emission limits imposed by the EPA are not achievable by many cement facilities, even with the best emissions control technology known to exist,” McCarthy said. “It would ultimately ship cement production to countries that have no environmental controls, resulting in unclean air that threatens the health of all Americans.”