The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates the cement industry will incur $926 million-$950 million annually to comply with new rules limiting emissions and particulate matter from kilns, contending scrubber and related pollution-control investments will net $6.7 billion to $18 billion in public health benefits. Set for full implementation by 2013, the agency's final National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants From the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry and Standards of Performance for Portland Cement Plants rule establishes thresholds aimed at reducing by 78-97 percent the industry's annual releases of mercury, hydrocarbons, acid gases, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter.
The emission limits are very low and will not be achievable by a number of facilities, PCA President Brian McCarthy noted in a statement on the final 461-page rule. Compliance will cost the industry several billion dollars, and require investments in pollution control equipment at a time when available capital is considerably constrained due to the state of the economy. Moreover, the large number of other regulatory requirements anticipated to affect the industry over the coming years complicates acquiring and installing the necessary emission controls for this rule. This could lead to additional cement plant closures, job losses and a reduction in U.S. cement production capacity.