The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday that it will reconsider some aspects of its new standards on hazardous air pollution from cement plants, but it won’t delay the regulations as the cement industry had asked.
Both cement companies and environmental groups had filed petitions asking EPA to take another look at the regulations, which will limit the amount emissions. In a notice signed by Administrator Lisa Jackson on Wednesday, the agency said it will look into some of the concerns that were raised after the package of two rules was finalised last September.
"Both rules will remain in place while EPA reconsiders these minor issues, to ensure that public health protections resulting from these rules are not delayed," the agency said. "Combined, the two rules are expected to dramatically cut harmful emissions of mercury, particle pollution and other pollutants."
EPA agreed to consider several of the cement industry’s arguments, including a claim that the limits on fine particles were not done correctly. It will also consider a claim by Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that the standards would not properly handle the times when a cement kiln is starting up, shutting down or malfunctioning.
Since the cement rules went final last year, the industry has been asking Capitol Hill to intervene. The Portland Cement Association says the rules would not cause domestic cement production to decline much, but they would cause virtually all new demand for cement to be met by imports rather than new US plants.
Andy O’Hare, the trade group’s vice president of regulatory affairs, said most of the issues being reconsidered are minor and technical. He said he is glad EPA is taking a closer look at the rules, but the agency won’t reconsider the cement industry’s main concern.