H.R. 2681: Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011

H.R. 2681

Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011

Date
October 5, 2011 (112th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, October 5, 2011, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2681 under a rule.  The rule makes in order 23 amendments that are pre-printed in the Congressional Record and are debatable under the five minute rule.  The rule also provides for one hour of general debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and for a motion to recommit with or without instructions.

The bill was introduced by Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK) on July 28, 2011, and referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. 

Bill Summary

H.R. 2681 would provide a legislative stay of three Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards that apply to cement manufacturing plants.  These rules have been referred to as the “Cement MACT rules.”  The regulations are:

  1. National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants from the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry and Standards of Performance for Portland Cement Plants;
  2. Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources and Emission Guidelines for Existing Sources: Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration Units; and
  3. Identification of Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials That Are Solid Waste.

The bill would prevent these rules from being implemented and require the EPA to promulgate, 15 months from the date of enactment, new regulations that:

  1. Establish maximum achievable control technology standards, performance standards, and other requirements under the Clean Air Act; and
  2. Identify non-hazardous secondary materials that, when used as fuels or ingredients in combustion units of such industry and plants are solid waste under the Solid Waste Disposal Act for purposes of determining the extent to which such combustion units are required to meet the emissions standards under the Clean Air Act.

H.R. 2681 would also extend the compliance period for employers by a minimum of five years.  Specifically, the bill would require the EPA Administrator to establish compliance dates for these standards after considering compliance costs, non-air quality health and environmental impacts and energy requirements, the feasibility of implementation, the availability of equipment, suppliers, and labor, and potential net employment impacts.

Background

There are approximately 100 cement manufacturing plants in America, and the cement industry provides high-wage jobs to 13,000 workers.  Because virtually all construction projects utilize cement in some aspect of their design, the industry is the foundation of our nation’s infrastructure.  Cement manufacturers are already among the most highly regulated enterprises in America, and the latest round of EPA regulation threatens to increase the industry’s burden.  These new rules set exceedingly stringent requirements that cannot be met by many facilities within the slated compliance periods, either because they are technically unachievable and/or cost-prohibitive.  Ragland, Alabama, for example, recently saw the suspension of a $350 million cement production facility, putting 1,500 construction jobs on hold and additional permanent and high-paying plant operation jobs in limbo.

The EPA estimates the cost of Cement MACT alone will be $2.2 billion, and concedes that the rule may lead to the “idling” or closure of 12 plants.  The agency further estimates that national average prices for Portland cement may increase 5.4 percent and domestic production may fall by 12 percent.  However, a recent study by the Portland Cement Association concluded that the EPA’s new Cement MACT regulations threaten to shut down 18 plants – almost 20 percent of the domestic industry.  The study also found that the likely cost of compliance with these standards would be $3.4 billion annually (half the industry’s annual revenues), and the cost of complying with the new incinerator requirements would be $2 billion.

In addition to the job losses directly caused by plant closures, rising cement prices pose a threat to the nation’s beleaguered construction industry.  According to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, increased construction costs resulting from rising cement prices could lead to the loss of 12,000 to 19,000 construction jobs.  Further, as domestic production decreases, Americans will become more dependent on supplies imported from other countries.

H.R. 2681 would provide a legislative stay of these overly burdensome rules and allow for the implementation of effective regulation that protects communities both environmentally and economically.  These new rules would be both technically and economically achievable – to prevent plant shut downs and job losses.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing H.R. 2681 would have a net cost of $1 million over the next five years.  Enacting this legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.

Amendments

Amendment No. 1—Rep. Schakowsky (D-IL):  This amendment would add a congressional finding that would read “mercury released into the ambient air from cement kilns addressed by the rules listed in section 2(b) of this Act is a potent neurotoxin that can damage the development of an infant's brain.”

Amendment No. 2—Rep. Moore (D-WI):  This amendment would prevent the underlying Act from taking effect until the President certifies that the implementation of the Act will not “adversely affect public health in the United States,” and “will not have a disproportionately negative impact on subpopulations that are most at risk from hazardous air pollutants, including communities with a high proportion of minorities, low-income communities, pregnant women, and the elderly.”  The amendment would also require the President to submit certification of the Act, or an explanation of why such certification is not warranted, within 90 days of enactment.

Amendment No. 3—Rep. Edwards (D-MD):  This amendment would add a congressional finding that if the Cement MACT rules remain in effect, “they will yield annual public health benefits of $6,700,000,000 to $18,000,000,000, while the costs of such rules are $926,000,000 to $950,000,000.”

Amendment No. 4—Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX):  This amendment would change the proposed compliance period for employers from a minimum of five years to no more than three years.

Amendment No. 5—Rep. Keating (D-MA):  This amendment would require the EPA Administrator to establish compliance dates in accordance with the Clean Air Act.  The amendment would allow for an extension of the compliance period if the EPA Administrator determines there is a “compelling reason” to do so.  The date for compliance could be extended “up to one year, but in no case beyond the date that is five years after the effective date of such regulation.”

Amendment No. 6—Rep. Blumenauer (D-OR):  This amendment would add the following two congressional findings:

  1. Section 112(e) of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7412(e)) requires the rule specified in section 3(b)(1) to be promulgated no later than the year 2000, and section 112(i) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 7412(i)) requires emissions reductions mandated by such rule to be achieved no later than 2003; and
  2. Section 129 of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7429) requires the rule specified in section 3(b)(2)(A) to be promulgated no later than the year 1994, and section 112(f) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 7412(f)) requires emissions reductions mandated by such rule to be achieved no later than 1999.

Amendment No. 7—Rep. Rush (D-IL):  This amendment would specify that the Act is “intended to supplement the provisions of” the Clean Air Act, not to “supersede any requirement, limitation, or other provision of” it.

Amendment No. 8—Rep. Quigley (D-IL):  This amendment would add a section titled “Protection From Avoidable Cases of Cancer” that would read as follows: “Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the Administrator shall not delay actions pursuant to the rules identified in section 2(b) of this Act to reduce emissions from any cement kiln if such emissions are increasing the risk of cancer.”

Amendment No. 9—Rep. Waxman (D-CA):  This amendment would add a section titled “Determination; Authorization” that would read as follows: “Not later than 10 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the Chief Financial Officer of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Comptroller General of the United States, and the Director of the Congressional Budget Office, shall make a determination regarding whether this Act authorizes the appropriation of funds to implement this Act and, if so, whether this Act reduces an existing authorization of appropriations by an offsetting amount. The provisions of this Act shall cease to be effective if it is determined that this Act authorizes the appropriation of funds without an offsetting reduction in an existing authorization of appropriations.”

Amendment No. 10—Rep. Waxman (D-CA):  This amendment would add a section titled “Compliance With Cut-Go” that would read as follows: If this Act authorizes the appropriation of funds to implement this Act and does not reduce an existing authorization of appropriations to offset that amount, then the provisions of this Act shall cease to be effective.”

Amendment No. 11—Rep. Waxman (D-CA):  This amendment would insert an additional section of the bill titled, “Protection for Infants and Children,” that would read, “Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the Administrator shall not delay actions pursuant to the rules identified in section 2(b) of this Act to reduce emissions from any cement kiln if such emissions are harming brain development or causing learning disabilities in infants or children.”

Amendment No. 12—Rep. Ellison (D-MN):  This amendment would strike “non-air quality” from the bill in section 3 so that the bill would read, “any health and environmental impact and energy requirements of the standards and requirements.” 

Amendment No. 13—Rep. Ellison (D-MN):  This amendment would strike section 5 of the bill that would require that the establishment of new standards be achievable in practice and that regulatory alternatives are established to impose the least burdensome standards. 

Amendment No. 14—Rep. Ellison (D-MN):  This amendment would insert a subsection that would read, “Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall publish a notice in the Federal Register estimating the public health impact of delaying regulation for the Portland cement manufacturing industry and Portland cement plants until the compliance date of the rules required by subsection (a) instead of the compliance date of the rules made ineffective by subsection (b).”

Amendment No. 15—Rep. Hahn (D-CA):  This amendment would require that the Cement MACT rules continue to be in effect within the jurisdictions of the ten metropolitan areas of the U.S. with the worst air quality.  The amendment would also require that, with respect to sources of air pollution in any of the ten metropolitan areas with the worst air quality, the provisions of the regulations be strengthened to make them “equally or more protective of public health and the environment than the corresponding provisions of the rules.” 

The amendment would also define the term “metropolitan area” as “the metropolitan statistical area or consolidated metropolitan statistical area (as established by the Bureau of the Census) most closely corresponding to the city or group of cities ranked among the cities with the worst year-round particle pollution in the “State of the Air 2011” report of the American Lung Association; and a metropolitan statistical area or consolidated metropolitan statistical area (as established by the Bureau of the Census).” 

Finally, the amendment would define the term “Ten metropolitan areas of the United States with the worst air quality'' to mean the ten metropolitan areas listed in the “State of the Air 2011” report of the American Lung Association as having the worst year-round particle pollution; and the ten metropolitan areas determined by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to have the highest year-round levels of particulate matter in the air.

Amendment No. 16—Rep. Markey (D-MA):  This amendment would insert an additional finding that would read, “The Congress finds that if the rules specified in section 3(b) remain in effect, they are expected to reduce the amount of mercury that deposits to land and water by up to—(1) 30 percent in some areas of the western United States; and (2) 17 percent in some areas of the eastern United States.”

Amendment No. 17—Rep. Capps (D-CA):  This amendment would insert an additional finding that would read, “The Congress finds that according to the Environmental Protection Agency, if the rules specified in section 3(b) are in effect, then for every dollar in costs, the rules will provide at least $7 to $19 in health benefits, due to the avoidance each year of—(1) 960 to 2,500 premature deaths; (2) 1,500 nonfatal heart attacks; (3) 1,000 emergency room visits; (4) 17,000 cases of aggravated asthma; and (5) 130,000 days of missed work.”

Amendment No. 18—Rep. Connolly (D-VA):  This amendment would insert an additional section titled, “Protection from Respiratory and Cardiovascular Illness and Death,” that would read, “Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the Administrator shall not delay actions pursuant to the rules identified in section 2(b) of this Act to reduce emissions from any cement kiln if such emissions are causing respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses and deaths, including cases of heart attacks, asthma attacks, and bronchitis.”

Amendment No. 19—Rep. Connolly (D-VA):  This amendment would insert an additional section titled, “Protection from Respiratory and Cardiovascular Illness and Death,” that would read, “Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the Administrator shall not delay actions pursuant to the rules identified in section 2(b) of this Act to reduce emissions from any cement kiln if such emissions are causing respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses and deaths, including cases of heart attacks, asthma attacks, and bronchitis, in communities with air pollution levels that exceed the health-based air quality standards.”

Amendment No. 20—Rep. Welch (D-VT):  This amendment would insert an additional finding that would read, “The Congress finds that the American people are exposed to mercury from industrial sources addressed by the rules listed in section 2(b) of this Act through the consumption of fish containing mercury and every State in the Nation has issued at least one mercury advisory for fish consumption.”

Amendment No. 21—Rep. Pallone (D-NJ):  This amendment would insert the following finding:

“The Congress finds that Federal departments and agencies should support efforts to achieve the science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans through reduced exposure to mercury that are established in Healthy People 2020 and were developed under the leadership of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during two presidential administrations.”

The amendment would also include an additional section of the bill, “Reducing Blood-Mercury Concentrations,” and would require that the “provisions of this Act shall cease to be effective, and the rules specified in section 3(b) shall be revived and restored, if the Administrator finds, in consultation with the directors of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that by allowing continued uncontrolled emissions of mercury from cement kilns this Act threatens to impede efforts to achieve the science-based, 10-year national objective for reducing mercury concentrations in children's blood that is established in Healthy People 2020.”

Amendment No. 22—Rep. Garamendi (D-CA):  This amendment would insert a Sense of Congress that would read, “Given that the United States cement industry must comply with United States labor and air pollution standards and faces strong competition from foreign countries with weak labor and air pollution emissions requirements, it is the sense of the Congress that Federal departments and agencies should strictly enforce the Buy American requirements in Federal law applicable to the manufacture of cement in the United States.”

Amendment No. 23—Rep. Cohen (D-TN):  This amendment would require that when taking into consideration the time required for compliance of new rules, that the Administrator take into consideration the “potential reductions in the number of illness-related absences from work due to respiratory or other illnesses.”