Council to reach settlement with Ash Grove, USA

Council to reach settlement with Ash Grove, USA
Published: 15 March 2011

After engaging in a three-year legal battle with Ash Grove Texas LP, the Arlington City Council appears poised to reach a settlement with the cement company over the city’s green cement policy.

Mayor Robert Cluck, who tabled the matter at a meeting last month, said he believes the time is right to discuss the proposed deal at the March 22 meeting.

In 2008, Ash Grove sued Tarrant County, Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth and three other cities in 2008, saying that their green-cement policies violated state laws by giving preference during bidding to companies using environmentally friendly methods.

Only Arlington and Dallas chose to fight the issue in court. Last week, Dallas approved the amended settlement.

Both cities chose to revisit the initial settlement offer after the local environmental group, Downwinders at Risk, inundated both cities with e-mails and phone calls. The group said the proposed settlement would have allowed Ash Grove to keep polluting at a higher level than other Midlothian cement plants.
The first draft of the proposed settlement would have reduced nitrogen oxides but would have done little else to compel Ash Grove to make further improvements.

An Ash Grove spokeswoman declined to comment on the proposed settlement. The company operates three higher-polluting wet kilns at its Midlothian plant, the last left operating in Texas.

The new deal keeps those reductions in place but adds an amendment that states that the agreement is valid only as long as the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t certify selective catalytic reduction, a technology being tried out at a cement plant in Illinois that may dramatically reduce emissions.

If the technology reduces emissions by 80 percent, the EPA could require all North Texas cement makers to meet a tougher emissions standard to quality for preferences in city purchases.