The Portland Cement Association (PCA) today announced its support for a study conducted by Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) Maguire Energy Institute which examines the contributions of the cement industry to U.S. economic health and the harmful effects of proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) regulations.
The study was the focus of a panel discussion held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Participants in the panel discussion included the study’s author, Dr. Bernard Weinstein, associate director, SMU Maguire Energy Institute and Michael Joyce, director of legislative affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. Panelists, along with other industry members examined the study’s research that reports data about the cement manufacturing industry and forecasts the economic ramifications of harsh government regulations on the industry on a national level.
“Domestic cement production is responsible for keeping America’s construction industry afloat, even as the nation struggles to regain its economic footing,” said Brian McCarthy, president and CEO, PCA. “By producing cement within our borders, we keep Americans employed and reduce our reliance on foreign sources contributing to the health our economy and a reduction in greenhouse gases due to less importation and transport of supplies.”
According to the study, in 2008 the industry employed more than 17,000 Americans and nearly $27.5 billion of the nation’s economic activity, or gross output, occurred in the cement manufacturing industry. Indirectly, the industry supported almost 153,000 jobs and $7.5 billion in wages and benefits.
“The EPA’s proposed NESHAP rules are meant to reduce emissions in an effort to contribute to the health of the environment and safety of Americans,” said Dr. Weinstein. “However the rules set a standard for emissions reduction in a pollutant-by-pollutant manner – standards that are unachievable for many plants and will force others to operate at an exponentially lower capacity, meaning supplies will have to come from off shore and American jobs will be lost.”
Vital infrastructure projects will also be affected by the proposed regulations. Legislation like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and upcoming highway bills call for an unprecedented amount of taxpayer dollars to be spent on rehabilitating and reinvesting in our nation’s infrastructure. However these projects could cost exponentially more due to importation of cement. Some studies have shown that the overall impact of regulations can add as much as 20 to 35 percent to the price of end-use projects. Perhaps the most telling statistic from the study is that even the EPA estimates the proposed rule will result in $340 million of new costs to the cement industry and nearly a 10 percent drop in domestic cement production.