New bipartisan legislation would help the nation’s brick, clay and tile producers avoid premature and devastating investments to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) national emission regulations.
Recently introduced by U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), the “Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns (BRICK) Act” would allow two years for the judicial review of final rules on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) increasingly strict emissions regulations before compliance is required. The bill would address serious time concerns associated with the burdensome Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule reissued in 2015 for brick and structural clay manufacturers.
“It’s critical to complete the full legal review before manufacturers must spend millions for controls that may not be needed and could force some of them out of business,” said Ray Leonhard, president and CEO, Brick Industry Association (BIA).
Past burdens incurred show that compliance deadlines for disputed regulations are often too short for the legal process to run its course. Manufacturers must make investments to comply with rules that may be thrown out by the courts.
“After investing $100 million since 2003 to comply with EPA regulations that were overturned just four years later, the nation’s brick manufacturers need certainty,” said BIA Chairman Davis Henry, president, Henry Brick, Selma, Alabama, a 70-year manufacturer who testified last September. “On behalf of the entire brick industry, I’d like to thank Senators Wicker and Donnelly for their bipartisan leadership on this critical issue.”
The bill would limit the compliance date extension to December 26, 2020 and if a court decision vacates EPA’s rule, the legislation would require EPA to finalize a follow up rule within one year. The compromise would ensure that businesses have the time and certainty they need to comply while ensuring that those investments in clean air technology are made in a timely manner.
In 2003, EPA finalized the original MACT rule for the brick and structural clay ceramics manufacturing industry requiring brick companies to comply by installing new equipment to help control emissions. In 2007, after companies spent more than $100 million on these controls, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated the rule.
In 2015, EPA finalized a new revised rule that uses the emission reductions achieved by the control devices installed under the vacated 2003 rule as the baseline for further emission reduction requirements. This rule is now under review by the courts.
“We greatly appreciate the bipartisan recognition of the need for a rule that both protects the environment and allows industry to continue to recover and thrive,” said BIA’s Vice President for Environment, Health and Safety, Susan Miller. “One round of compliance with a non-moving, defensible target will ensure both goals are attained.”