Lawmakers move to shield brick makers from yet-final EPA rule

Sources: Brick Industry Association, Reston, Va.; CP staff

New bipartisan legislation would help the nation's brick, clay and tile producers avoid premature and devastating investments to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's national emission regulations.

The Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act (BRICK) from U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) would allow two years for judicial review of increasingly strict EPA emissions regulations before compliance is required. The bill addresses serious time concerns associated with the burdensome Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule reissued in 2015 for brick and structural clay manufacturers.

"It's critical to complete the full legal review before manufacturers must spend millions for controls that may not be needed and could force some of them out of business," says Brick Industry Association CEO Ray Leonhard, noting how past burdens incurred showed that compliance deadlines for disputed regulations are often too short for the legal process to run its course.

BRICK would limit the compliance date extension to December 2020 and, if a court decision vacates the EPA rule, require the agency to finalize a follow up rule within one year. The compromise would ensure that businesses have the time and certainty they need to comply while ensuring that those investments in clean air technology are made in a timely manner.

EPA finalized the original brick and structural clay ceramics manufacturing industry MACT rule in 2003, requiring producers to install new emissions control equipment for clay product curing kilns. After companies spent more than $100 million on such controls, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated the rule four years later. A revised 2015 rule now under court review uses the emission reductions achieved by the control devices installed under the vacated 2003 rule as the baseline for further emission reduction requirements.

"We greatly appreciate the bipartisan recognition of the need for a rule that both protects the environment and allows the industry to continue to recover and thrive," affirms BIA Vice President for Environment, Health and Safety Susan Miller. "One round of compliance with a non-moving, defensible target will ensure both goals are attained."

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