Halfway Point for Thursday EPA Hearing: 50 speakers signed-up, 50 more needed

by jim on August 13, 2012

The Nation's Only Public Hearing on the Weakening of Toxic Air Pollution Emission Standards for All U.S. Cement Plants

Thursday August 16th
9 am to 7 pm
Arlington City Hall
101 W. Abram

We've been able to sign-up 50 speakers in less than a week for national hearing on short notice – Thank You  

 But Without Anyone Speaking in The Afternoon or Evening, the Hearing Will Recess Before It's Official Ending Time, and EPA and Industry Will Claim There Wasn't Enough Concern About This Last-Minute Rollback to Warrant Reconsideration
 
Please Don't Let That Happen 
 
Spend Just 5 Minutes  
on Thursday Afternoon or Evening  
Defending A Piece of Progress that Took  Your Neighbors 20 Years to Build   
 
Background
 
After 20 years of delay, EPA finally released rules in 2010 that were the first toxic air pollution standards for all U.S. cement plants. But at the last minute before final adoption this summer, EPA pulled the rules back and has proposed to change them in at least two very important ways: 

  

 – EPA proposes to wait another two years before implementing the rules at all US cement plants, from 2013 to 2015. 

 – EPA is proposes to weaken the cement plant standard for Particulate Matter pollution, or soot, and no longer use real time monitoring of PM pollution to enforce that standard.

Instead, plants will use special supervised "test burns" that don't reflect routine operating conditions.  

  

No court or legislation ordered these changes. So why has EPA proposed them at the last minute? EPA isn't saying. Even  former insiders can't get anyone within the Agency to tell them the motive for this rollback.  

Talking Points for Thursday's Hearing  

1) For the majority of every year, DFW is downwind of the largest concentration of cement plants in the country, located just southeast in Midlothian. Three large cement plants – TXI, Holcim and Ash Grove – release hundreds of thousands of tons of air pollution annually. We have a lot to lose or gain by the adoption of these new EPA rules for cement plant pollution.
 
2) After 20 years of trying to get EPA to do what it was obligated to do by the 1991 amendments to the Clean Air Act, citizens should not have to wait two more years, (and possibly longer if there's a Romney Administration) for implementing these rules. We've waited long enough, and Industry has had three years to prepare since the rules were finalized.
 
3) Using EPA's own report on the public health benefits of these rules, a two-year delay in implementing them would cause between 1,920 and 5,000 premature deaths, 35,000 severe asthma attacks, 3,000 heart attacks and 260,000 days of missed work, including many in DFW.
 
4) There's a growing scientific consensus that there is no "safe" level of exposure to Particulate Matter pollution – now linked to heart attacks, strokes, immune system damage, and brain function loss.
Cement Plants are among the very largest PM polluters. EPA estimates that its proposed weakening of cement PM standards will allow 135 additional tons of soot a year to be released from US cement plants.
 
5) The EPA's proposed two-year delay will result in an extra 32,000 pound of mercury released into the air. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that has been found in the air downwind of cement plants. Once deposited mercury accumulates in the food chain and poses a health risk from contaminated fish, particularly for pregnant women and young children. EPA's delay is bad news for children's brains – low levels of mercury exposure during critical times in brain development have been linked to learning problems and developmental delays. To protect kids, we need to speed up mercury clean-up not slow it down.
6) This rollback is completely unnecessary. EPA has already successfully turned back the cement industry's attacks on this rule in the Court and in Congress. Last year the agency won a D.C. Circuit Court ruling that upheld the cement air toxics standards and found that maintaining the implementation deadline of September 2013 would not harm the industry. In 2011, industry-sponsored
legislation to delay and weaken the cement standards failed in Congress after finding scant support in the Senate. Under these circumstances, it's a mystery why EPA would propose to weaken and the delay the rules now.

Our request is simple: We want the original rules, and we want them implemented on the original schedule – next year.

How to Reserve Your 5-Minute  
Speaking Slot on the 16th:

E-mail the EPA's Pam Garrett at garrett.pamela@epa.gov or call her at
(919) 541-7966. She'll assign you a specific time.

 

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