New federal environmental regulations will cost the US cement industry billions in plant upgrades, which could lead to job outsourcing, higher prices and ultimately plant closures, according to one industry group.
The Portland Cement Association fears US Environmental Protection Agency standards set to go into effect by 2013 could cripple the industry.
"It’s predicted 20 per cent of the US plants will go out of business and will not be able to meet the new standards," said Keith E. Williams, who serves as a managing environmental process engineer for Buzzi Unicem USA in Stockertown, former chairman of the Lehigh Valley Berks Air Quality Partnership and a Hercules Cement employee.
Representatives at Hercules in Stockertown, Essroc Cement in Nazareth, and Keystone Cement in Allen Township all said they are equipped to meet the stricter standards.
The regulations, marking the first time the federal government has restricted emissions from existing cement kilns, target more than 100 cement companies nationwide.
Keystone Cement Plant Manager Stephen Hayden believes the regulations also could lead to the U.S. relying more heavily on Portland cement imported from developing nations. That in turn could lead to an increase in the amount of mercury pollution from other countries, he said.