The BRICK Act Moves Forward, and Manufacturers Gain Regulatory Certainty

By | General, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Sustainability | No Comments

Today, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee held a markup and approved the Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act of 2018 (S. 2461), a bipartisan bill that would permit a full legal review of national emissions standards for brick, clay products and clay ceramics manufacturing before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires regulatory compliance. On March 7, the House passed similar legislation (H.R. 1917) that was strongly supported by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

The NAM fully supports the ongoing national effort to protect our environment and improve public health through appropriate laws and regulations. However, manufacturers need policies that provide regulatory certainty and ensure a sustainable environment and economy. In September 2015, the EPA issued final National Emissions Standards for Brick, Structural Clay Products and Clay Ceramics Manufacturing, often referred to as Brick MACT. It is estimated that this rule will collectively cost the brick industry, which is made up of predominantly small and medium-sized manufacturers, more than $100 million per year.

When regulations stretch beyond what the law allows, manufacturers and other stakeholders must turn to the courts for relief–a lengthy process that can take months, if not years. Under the Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act of 2018, if a final rule under this Act is challenged in court, the compliance date extension would be limited to December 26, 2020. However, if the court refutes the EPA’s rule, the legislation requires the agency to issue new regulations within one year. This bill is a commonsense approach, as it ensures that manufacturers will have the certainty that the investments they make are based on laws that the courts have determined are appropriate and legal.

Manufacturers support reasonable environmental policies but need regulatory certainty to make necessary, long-term investments, and they believe both goals can be achieved through S. 2461. With the committee’s approval of the bill today, the measure will now proceed to the Senate for consideration.

Achieving Our Energy Goal

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The Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 initiative was established by American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) members in 2011. The voluntary industry goals it includes work to further the three pillars of sustainability: economic, social and environmental. As an energy-intensive industry, our members recognized the need to improve their efficiency in purchased energy. Not only does improved energy efficiency result in reducing overall costs to companies, but it also frees up resources for future investment and job growth and improves the environment.

Between 2005 and 2016, our members reduced their consumption of purchased energy by 11.6 percent, surpassing their goal of a 10 percent reduction ahead of schedule!

Our members meet approximately two-thirds of their energy demand through self-generated renewable biomass; this significantly reduces their purchased energy consumption.

One of the ways our members improve energy efficiency is through a combined heat and power (CHP) generation process, which efficiently produces electricity and steam used in manufacturing. In 2016, 98.5 percent of the electricity the industry generated was through CHP. The forest products industry produced 30 percent of the CHP electricity generated by manufacturing sectors (only the chemical industry produced more).

Improving energy efficiency will remain key as mills continue to consider their energy choices and strategies in light of environmental requirements and changing cost scenarios and fuel availability. As energy efficiency is a core element of mill sustainability, we are proud that we have met our energy-efficiency goal, and we will continue to strive to achieve further improvement.

Jerry Schwartz is the senior director of energy & environmental policy at the American Forest & Paper Association.