Press Release | December 9, 2011

Court rejects cement industry’s attack on public health

A federal court today rejected the Portland Cement Association’s attempt to repeal public health protections provided by the Environmental Protection Agency against air pollution from portland cement kilns. The Southern Environmental Law Center represented the North Carolina Coastal Federation, Cape Fear River Watch and PenderWatch & Conservancy before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in defending EPA limits on conventional and hazardous air pollutant emissions from the portland cement manufacturing industry.

“We’re relieved that the court saw through the Titan-led challenge to these essential public health protections,” said Geoff Gisler, attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “It’s now up to the Division of Air Quality to fully enforce the standards; something the agency failed to do in its draft air quality permit released this fall.”

In rejecting the cement industry challenge, the court found that EPA properly applied the Clean Air Act’s requirements when setting pollution limits for particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide. Although the court agreed with the Portland Cement Association in a part of its challenge to the hazardous air pollutant standards, and required EPA to review its analysis, it left those standards in effect. The court recognized that the reconsideration may, in fact, result in stronger limits, saying “perhaps PCA would be better off had they not brought this issue to our attention.”

The Portland Cement Association, an industry group led by Titan America’s CEO, challenged 2010 EPA standards that are expected to prevent 2,500 premature deaths each year from cement plant pollution. The EPA estimates that the standards will prevent emissions of thousands of tons of nitrous oxides, hydrochloric acid, and organic hazardous air pollutants as well as thousands of pounds of mercury each year.

The new regulations would affect the proposed Titan America cement kiln, which is expected to be one of the largest in the nation. The kiln would be a significant source of mercury, fine particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and heat-trapping gases. The accompanying quarry would destroy more than 1,000 acres of wetlands.

About North Carolina Coastal Federation
The North Carolina Coastal Federation (NCCF) is the state’s only non-profit organization focused exclusively on protecting and restoring the coast of North Carolina through education, advocacy and habitat restoration and preservation. www.nccoast.org

About Cape Fear River Watch
Cape Fear River Watch was founded in 1993 and began as a nonprofit organization, open to everyone, dedicated to the improvement and preservation of the health, beauty, cleanliness, and heritage of the Cape Fear River Basin. CFRW’s mission is to “protect and improve the water quality of the Lower Cape Fear River Basin through education, advocacy and action.” CFRW supports the work of the Cape Fear RIVERKEEPER, a member of the WATERKEEPER ALLIANCE.

About PenderWatch & Conservancy
PenderWatch & Conservancy is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization founded in 1986 to protect Pender County’s natural environment through environmental education and advocacy.

Press Contacts

Geoff Gisler

Senior Attorney and Leader of SELC's Clean Water Program

Phone: 919-967-1450