Yesterday, President Obama authorised new US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on emissions of CO2 from power plants.
"These unprecedented regulations will have enormous impact," said James Toscas, president and CEO of the Portland Cement Association (PCA).
"Everybody, including EPA, agrees that they will boost the cost of electricity, which in turn will increase the cost of making and using nearly everything. Higher costs hurt every American's pocketbook, and
mean fewer investments, fewer construction projects, and fewer jobs. Americans need to understand this," Mr Toscas said in a statement ahead of yesterday's authorisation by President Obama.
The PCA highlighted that unlike other emissions that have been regulated by EPA up to now, CO2 was not considered an air pollutant by Congress when it passed the Clean Air Act. However, because it has been associated with global warming, means have been sought to control industrial CO2 emissions, and the broad language contained in the Clean Air Act allows EPA to do so.
Isolating CO2 requires highly advanced and expensive sequestration technology, while utilizing a less carbon-intensive process requires massive investments in new plants, equipment, and technologies, some of which don't exist today, the association underlines.
"Making substantial reductions to CO2 emissions from our core industries will demand a tremendous amount of time, talent, money, and technology," Toscas notes. "Diverting these precious resources within the timeframes specified in the regulations will strain the capacity of the US economy. We're concerned that the public may not recognise or be prepared for this."
The new regulations are the first of an expected series of EPA rules regulating CO2 from core US industries, including cement manufacturers.
The PCA stressed that the US cement industry has made significant progress in reducing energy use and associated CO2 emissions through refinements in plant operations and technology. Of the
70 manufacturing facilities that achieved EPA ENERGY STAR® certification in 2014, 27 were cement plants. A Duke University study for the period 1997-2008 noted a 13 per cent improvement in US cement plant energy efficiency.