Groups to Defend Pollution Limits on Cement Plants
Groups that kept the proposed Titan America cement plant near Wilmington, N.C., accountable to standards protecting the health of N.C. residents now will defend national pollution limits on cement plants after a federal court granted their intervention in Portland Cement Association v. EPA. The Southern Environmental Law Center represents 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.
“Long overdue under the Clean Air Act, the EPA limits on pollution from the cement industry protect people’s health and quality of life,” said Geoff Gisler, attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Safeguarding people from harmful pollution hits home in southeastern North Carolina where residents face Titan’s proposed plant and its substantial air pollution.”
The Portland Cement Association, an industry group led by Titan America’s CEO, is challenging 2010 EPA standards projected to prevent 2,500 premature deaths each year from cement plant pollution. The EPA estimates that the new 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.
“If built as originally proposed, Titan America’s plant would be a massive source of toxic air pollution in southeastern North Carolina for decades,” said Mike Giles, a Coastal Advocate for the N.C. Coastal Federation. “EPA’s new standards are not only reasonable, they are essential to protecting the health of our communities, fisheries, and environment.”
The new regulations would affect the proposed Titan America cement kiln, which is expected to be the fourth 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.
“These new standards are critical for the long-term health of the Northeast Cape Fear River and the people who rely on it,” said Kemp Burdette, Cape Fear RIVERKEEPER®, Cape Fear River Watch. “The river has previously been polluted by industry at Titan’s proposed site; EPA’s regulations are an important part of keeping history from repeating itself and giving the river a chance to recover.
In a case brought by conservation groups that include residents of the affected area, in May 2010, the Wake County Superior Court ruled the state must examine all public health and environmental impacts of Titan America’s proposed cement plant before any state permits for the plant can be issued, including impacts to drinking water, recreational and commercial fisheries, water quality for wildlife and recreation, and quality of the air residents breathe. Rather than undergoing that review of its proposed plant, Titan America declined $4.5 million of grant money that were the basis of the court’s ruling.
“The quality of life of Pender County’s residents and visitors depends on clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment,” said Allie Sheffield, President, PenderWatch & Conservancy. “Controlling air pollution from Titan’s proposed plant with EPA’s new standards is vital to protecting that quality of life.”
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.