According to the Portland Cement Association (PCA), the energy and climate legislation released in May by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) needs to do more to balance protecting the environment and maintaining U.S. jobs.

“We appreciate the Senators' efforts to work with the industry throughout the drafting of the bill, and will continue to express the concerns of the cement industry to Senators Kerry and Lieberman throughout this part of the legislative process,” says John Shaw, PCA's senior vice president of government affairs. “However, more needs to be done in key areas to maintain robust domestic cement production.”

Concerns include the lack of a single national program regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) and the fact that the bill only grants regulation of GHGs to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the Clean Air Act under certain circumstances.

“The Kerry-Lieberman legislative does not go far enough to prevent carbon ‘leakage' through the loss of domestic production and jobs to more carbon-intensive developing nations,” says Brian McCarthy, PCA president and CEO. “Such a bill will not truly have an impact on global climate change and have a negative effect on the viability of American jobs. Domestic cement production is responsible for keeping America's construction industry afloat, especially as the nation struggles to regain its economic footing.”

This spring a report from Southern Methodist University's Maguire Energy Institute reported that the industry employed more than 17,000 Americans in 2009, producing a $27.5 billion gross output from the cement manufacturing industry. If the bill passes, restrictions could limit not only cement usage but available jobs as well.

With the industry's continued commitment to reduce energy consumption during cement production—an effort showing a 35% improvement since the mid-1970s—the PCA and other organizations hope the legislation won't curtail the use of cement-based products or the technological advancements in making this material even more sustainable.

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