Cement Industry Emphasizes Importance of Alternative Fuels Policy Reform

During a roundtable meeting with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the Portland Cement Association (PCA) applauded the progress the agency has made with its Smart Sectors program, while also calling for changes to its non-hazardous secondary materials (NHSM) policy. 

PCA Vice President and Counsel for Government Affairs Charles Franklin explained during the meeting why reforming the NHSM policy – which governs when and how alternative fuels can be used for energy recovery in cement kilns and other types of boilers and incinerators – is so important. 

“A robust alternative fuels policy supports many of the current administration’s key priorities, including energy security, fuel diversification, public health and environmental protection, economic development, and infrastructure investment,” said Franklin. “Materials that would otherwise end up in landfills, illegal dumps, or our nation’s waterways can offer great value as fuels for cement kilns. These kilns operate at temperatures that ensure highly efficient heat recovery, with emissions profiles similar to if not better than those of traditional fossil fuels.”

While many cement manufacturers already strive to use alternative fuels, they are often limited by federal regulations that deem such materials to be wastes, subjecting facilities to onerous permitting requirements and restrictions. PCA, joined by other supportive industries at the meeting, urged Wheeler and his team to work with the industry to review current regulatory policies, guidance and legal interpretations to identify suitable reforms. 

“When EPA launched Smart Sectors a year ago, we were cautiously optimistic that the new liaison program would encourage mutually-beneficial engagement between regulators and regulated industries,” said PCA President and CEO Michael Ireland. “Since then, the program has exceeded our expectations.  Smart Sectors staff have invested time to understand our industry’s unique challenges and have helped our members navigate EPA’s regulatory development and public engagement process.” 

The Portland Cement Association, founded in 1916, represents 93 percent of U.S. cement production capacity and have facilities in all 50 states. The association promotes safety, sustainability, and innovation in all aspects of construction, fosters continuous improvement in cement manufacturing and distribution and generally promotes economic growth and sound infrastructure investment.

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