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Inaction on EPA regulations will cause 4000 jobs to be lost

World Cement,

Testifying recently before the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Dan Harrington, President and CEO of Lehigh Hanson, Inc., and former chair of the Portland Cement Association (PCA), stressed to Congress that inaction on EPA regulations will result in the direct loss of 4000 high-paying manufacturing jobs and have an adverse impact on the nation's beleaguered construction sector.

Led by Rep. Ed Whitfield, chair of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, the hearings focused on the ‘EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011,’ (H.R. 2250), which addresses boilers and incinerators, and the ‘Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011’ (H.R. 2681).  Harrington argued how regulations currently facing the cement industry could force the closure of 18 of the country’s 100 cement plants and result in the loss of 4000 manufacturing jobs.

"It is important to note that our industry is not averse to regulations, and we continually demonstrate our commitment to energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. However, the regulations this legislation addresses cannot come at a worse time given our nation's and our industry's current economic situation.  If the Administration is serious about balancing environmental interests with growing jobs, then they will take serious steps toward curbing multiple EPA rules that create barriers to investment," Harrington said.

He also emphasised that disruptions to the availability of domestic cement supplies will have adverse impacts on the country’s currently beleaguered construction sector, which is suffering from an unemployment rate of nearly 20%. Additionally, a decrease in domestic production will require an increase in imported cement to meet demand. This will result in increased costs, placing more burdens on already stressed state and municipal budgets when investing in future construction projects.

The PCA have officially applauded President Obama’s recent appeal to Congress to quickly re-authorise bills that fund highway and aviation expansion. The public sector accounts for as much as 50% of the cement used in the US. He also requested that EPA withdraw a controversial ozone rule, which he justified by claiming, "I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover."

The cement industry, already one of the most heavily regulated industrial sectors, has invested tens of billions of dollars in modernising and expanding plants with state-of-the-art technologies that significantly reduce the industry's environmental footprint.  The cement industry recycles 12 million tpa of industrial and urban byproducts, including tyres, flyash and wood chips that would otherwise be land-filled.

"[H.R. 2681] will create the opportunity for the issuance of reasonable and balanced regulations … thereby giving the domestic industry time to get back on its feet financially," Harrington concluded.  "These basic elements of the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act – a re-proposal of the rules, followed by an extension of the compliance deadline – provide a win-win opportunity for American workers and the nation's environment.  This bipartisan bill is also consistent with the President's executive order issued earlier this year calling for reasonable regulations."

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