Air-pollutant standard may cripple cement industry

Compliance could cost billions of dollars and increase demand for imports

News Portland Cement Association August 10, 2010
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has now promulgated the long-awaited portland cement hazardous air-pollutant standard. It will require billions of dollars of investment over the next three years by the U.S. cement industry. Equally important is the impact on the upcoming standards for industrial boilers and utilities.

The compliance date is three years from promulgation, which will actually be a few weeks from now when the standard is posted in the Federal Register. The rule will result in the following annual reductions:

• Mercury - 16,600 lb or 92%;

• Total hydrocarbons - 10,600 tons or 83%;

• Particulate Matter - 11,500 tons or 92%;

• Acid gases - (measured as hydrochloric acid) - 5,800 tons or 97%;

• Sulfur dioxide (SO2) - 110,000 tons or 78%; and

• Nitrogen oxides (NOx) - 6,600 tons or 5%.

“Compliance with the rule will cost the industry several billion dollars, and require investments in pollution-control equipment at a time when available capital is considerably constrained due to the state of the economy,” the Portland Cement Association (PCA) said in a statement. “Moreover, the large number of other regulatory requirements anticipated to affect the industry over the coming years complicates acquiring and installing the necessary emission controls for this rule. This could lead to additional cement plant closures, job losses and a reduction in U.S. cement production capacity.

“More cement will need to be imported to make up for shrinking domestic supply. We fear this could constrain the U.S. government’s efforts to stimulate the economy, create jobs and rehabilitate the nation’s infrastructure. Additionally, imports of cement, mostly likely from developing nations, will cause global increases of greenhouse gas, mercury and other pollutant emissions.”

PCA is thoroughly reviewing the new regulations to assess their ultimate impact on the industry and its planned growth, but believes there are approaches that the EPA could have pursued, including creating emission standards for subcategories of industry facilities and using risk-based policy approaches to address hydrochloric acid, rather than imposing an HCI emission standard for the purpose of limiting sulfur-dioxide emissions.

“For more than a decade, PCA has supported the rising demand for portland cement through environmentally and socially responsible business practices,” the statement continued. “PCA and its member companies are continually working to identify innovative ways to improve plant operations and implement state-of-the-art technologies to minimize emissions, promote a safe workplace, improve energy efficiency and conserve natural resources while cost-effectively producing a high-quality product.”

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