The Portland Cement Association (PCA) is advocating for the Biden administration to withdraw a proposed change to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) as it would require cement producers to “endure regulatory overkill and unnecessary, mounting expenses.”
The proposed rule would lower the primary (health-based) annual fine particulate matter standard from the current level of 12 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) to within a range of 9 µg/m3 to 10 µg/m3.
A study by PCA predicts that lowering the annual PM standard to the newly proposed limit could require between $124.2 million to $216 million in capital expenditures and up to $70 million a year in additional operating costs for cement producers. Instead, the association encourages the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to focus on scrutinizing the greatest cause of PM emissions: unmanaged wildfires.
Wildfires account for more than 30% of primary PM emissions, whereas the U.S. cement industry contributes only 0.1% share of such emissions, noted PCA. A single wildfire event could negate the efforts of the industry to meet the revised standard.
In addition, through the hard work of regulated industry and government officials, PM emissions have been reduced by 37% during the last two decades. This downward trend will continue through existing programs, PCA said, including the PM standards EPA retained in 2020.