Testifying today before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Regulations Reform, Aris Papadopoulos, CEO of Titan America and chair of the Portland Cement Association (PCA), called for Congress to take immediate action to end the unprecedented regulatory assault against the cement industry that puts millions of American jobs in jeopardy.
Led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), chair of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending, the hearings sought to assess the cumulative impact of regulations on U.S. manufacturers. In addition to Papadopoulos, the Subcommittee heard testimony from the paper, chemistry, forged metals and brick industries.
Papadopoulos called on Congress to step up and take back legislative ownership of restoring economic prosperity and retaining good jobs for Americans. “Immediate action is needed to rescind these regulations before they prolong or worsen the harm,” he testified. “We also need Congress to undertake broad legislative reform that will strengthen standards of justification for EPA rules and reduce wasteful environmental litigation.”
One of the biggest impacts of the regulations, according to Papadopoulos, will be jobs. “The Great Recession has hit our industry very hard. Cement demand has dropped in half. Profitability has been wiped out. Yet, we sought neither handouts nor bailouts. We cut costs, which sadly included more than 4,000 jobs. What remains are 15,000 well-paying jobs, with average compensation of $75,000. But today, these jobs are in jeopardy, and the spillover could also affect millions employed in the construction sector.”
Although domestic cement manufacturers are among the most highly regulated enterprises in the country, the industry is currently facing seven different existing or proposed EPA regulatory standards.
“The EPA has launched an unprecedented regulatory attack against our industry,” Papadopoulos testified. “Our economic study of EPA’s rules concludes that two rules alone impose a compliance burden of $5.4 billion in the next four years, equal to 85 percent of the industry’s total annual sales. They also increase production costs by 20 percent.”
Just one of the rules will force 20 percent of U.S. cement plants to shut down, causing an increased reliance on imported cement. By 2025, the nation would be importing 56 percent of its cement needs. In 2010, it imported less than 10 percent.
“Dependence on foreign cement follows the road of dependence on foreign energy,” Papadopoulos testified. “And with cement more cumbersome to import than oil, shortages and price volatility will become more common. This could hurt the entire construction economy, with impacts on infrastructure, housing, commerce and jobs.”