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EPA Proposes New Rules to Limit Mercury and Other Toxic Emissions from Cement Plants

EPA Proposes New Rules to Limit Mercury and Other ... CLICK HERE to sign FoH's petition supporting EPA's new rule

FoH, Other Community Groups Represented by Earthjustice in 2007 Lawsuit Hail EPA Proposal That Would Reduce Mercury Emissions Between 81 and 93 Percent

Action taken early in Obama Administration after more than a decade of lawsuits resisted by previous administration

New York's 3 cement kilns are located in the greater Capitol district; today Earthjustice, FoH, SCRAP and CASE held a press conference in Albany to address local implications particularly regarding Lafarge in Ravena which is among nation's ten worst mercury polluters in the industry.

The Environmental Protection Agency today proposed new federal regulations that will limit mercury, hydrocarbons, hydrochloric acid (HCL) , particulates and sulfur dioxide emissions from Portland cement kilns nationwide. Mercury and HCL have not been previously limited although in 1990 Congress amended the Clean Air Act to include these in EPA regulations.

The EPA until now has been reluctant to do so despite repeated legal actions taken by Earth Justice, Sierra Club and community groups. During those ten years EPA repeatedly proposed new rules that ignored mercury and HCL. In February 2007 Earthjustice, on behalf of Sierra Club and six community groups including FoH challenged EPA's 2006 proposed rule that again ignored mercury. In addition, the attorneys general of eight states (Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) with leadership from NYS AG Andrew Cuomo also challenged the proposed rule.

In January 2009 the EPA and the plaintiffs came to a settlement that required the new proposed rules to be issued on March 31, 2009. Later, by agreement that date was revised to April 21, 2009.

Today, President Obama's newly appointed EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the proposed standards that will for the first time limit mercury, HCL and certain toxic organic pollutants, as well as strengthen emissions limits on particulate matter that will better control lead, arsenic and other toxic metals from cement kilns.

In addition to the 250-plus page pdf of the proposal the EPA also issued a 4-page Fact Sheet summarizing the proposed limits and the anticipated benefits. The new standards will apply a cap on emissions for every Portland cement kiln operating in the US. It will apply to both new and existing kilns. The rules for new kilns are more stringent than for existing, but are quite stringent for both. While the EPA has not specified the steps kilns can take or specific tecnology to be used, FoH expects that older wet-process kilns will not be able to meet the new standards and will have to be upgraded to dry process technology. Furthermore we expect that new pollution control technology such as wet scrubbers will have to be installed.

A 60-day Public Comment Period will commence once the EPA publishes the proposal in the Federal Register which is expected by May 1. There might also be a Public Hearing twenty days into the Public Comment Period. FoH will provide more information here on this as it becomes available. The proposed rule should become final in March 2010, with a compliance date in 2013.

Even before the Public Comment Period begins you can support these important new rules. At the Earthjustice website you can send a supporting e-mail to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.