A Rewrite of EPA Cement Rules Voted for by House
Updated: Aug 29
The House voted on Thursday for a measure that would force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rewrite its new air pollution regulations for cement plants. This vote comes amid other efforts to weaken the agenda of the EPA.
To become law, the bill must be passed in the Senate first. At this point, that appears unlikely, however there are a few Democrats in the Senate that have expressed support for the delay of cement regulations. Even if the bill does not go through the Senate, it is expected to show up as part of negotiations on 2012 federal spending levels.
If passed, the bill would require the EPA to withdrawal the existing rules and revise them so that they are less burdensome to the cement industry. The rules address toxic emissions from cement kilns. Additionally, the bill would give these cement facilities an extra five years to comply with the rules.
The supporters of the bill believe that the emission targets in the current rule are too difficult to achieve and will cause some plants to shut down. The Portland Cement Association claims that 18 out of the 97 cement plants in the U.S. would be forced to shut down if the rule remains the same.
The EPA says these estimates are high, claiming that 10 plants would be forced to shut down. They also state that even with these shutdowns, the economic benefits of healthier population would outweigh the costs. The rules would require large reductions of mercury and other pollutant emissions. Some saying that by passing this bill, it would set a precedent that EPA should set standards that are less burdensome to industry even if they believe strict standards are necessary.
“In effect, the bill would exempt cement kilns from ever having to achieve meaningful reductions in toxic air pollution,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.). “It is turning our back on the purpose of the Clean Air Act.”
The White House and President Obama oppose the bill. The House voted 262-161 in favor of the bill.