August 1, 2012
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may give operations a reprieve with its proposed amendments to air quality rules that the agency set in 2010 to regulate cement manufacturing.
EPA proposed in late June delaying implementation of the rules of the portland cement National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) and New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) by two years, from 2013 to 2015. The rules are intended to limit toxic emissions that the industry contends occur naturally in the production process.
The EPA and industry representatives contend that postponing implementation will give businesses already struggling because of the economy more time to comply with the costly changes, according to a July 5 report in the Daily Journal of Commerce.
However, according to the Daily Journal of Commerce report, environmental groups argue that implementation is already 10 years overdue and that further delay will result in thousands of deaths.
Andy O’Hare, vice president of regulatory affairs for the Portland Cement Association, notes that the industry does not have any issues with implementing emissions regulations, but he says the timing is not ideal with the current economy.
He also points out that the industry EPA’s proposed amendments would change the way particulate matter is monitored and could significantly reduce the economic damage – to about $2.5 billion, according to the report.
“Although EPA has proposed to do [delay the date], they haven’t finalized it so we still have a ways to go before it is a done deal,” O’Hare tells Aggregates Manager. “EPA is planning to finalize it in December. We won’t know until then about the final decision, but we are certainly hopeful. The industry certainly needs it.”
Cement consumption is way down from previous years, he says. “It’s about 35 percent off from 2005,” O’Hare says. “A good number of U.S. cement plants are sitting idle or operating way below capacity. We think this additional time will accomplish a lot of things.”
O’Hare says it will allow the companies more time to save to make the investments it needs to make. However, even though the EPA is planning to extend the time two more years before implementation, “the rule is still quite challenging. The industry will need to give significant investment [to comply].”
Birmingham, Ala.-based Vulcan Materials, the largest provider of aggregates, has a single cement facility in Florida. The producer believes the EPA’s proposed amendments to air quality, which includes the two-year extension before implementation, are “appropriate.”
For a more in-depth report, including additional commentary and analysis from PCA’s O’Hare and John English, manager of public affairs for Vulcan Materials Co., see the September 2012 print edition or digital edition of Aggregates Manager.