US rules meant to cut mercury emissions and other air pollutants at cement plants are too restrictive and based on flawed data, a lawyer for the industry told a federal appeals court.
A three-judge panel in Washington heard arguments today in challenges to Environmental Protection Agency regulations set to be enforced in 2013. The cement industry predicts the rules may cost $3.4 billion and shutter 18 of 100 plants.
“No existing plant can achieve any of these in combination,” said Carter Phillips, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP in Washington who represents the Portland Cement Association, an industry trade group. He told the panel that the EPA rules are “unreasonable” because they are based on “pollutant-by-pollutant” analyses instead of the sources of pollution as a whole.
The EPA says the cost would be no more than US$950m.
The Portland Cement Association is also lobbying Congress to block the EPA rules on behalf of companies such as Cemex, the largest producer of cement in the US and Holcim Ltd.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would force the EPA to scrap and rewrite the cement plant regulations. The bill hasn’t been taken up by the Senate. President Barack Obama’s administration issued veto threats on Oct. 3.