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EPA enlists cement, concrete, construction interests in partnership premier

Sources: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; CP staff

The EPA has designated cement and concrete, construction, and iron and steel among 13 regulated industries chartering Smart Sectors, a partnership program whose collaborative approach, agency officials contend, provides an opportunity to pinpoint more forward-thinking ways to protect the environment.

“Smart Sectors is designed to effectively engage business partners throughout the regulatory process,” says EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “The previous administration created a narrative that you can’t be pro-business and pro-environment. This program is one of the many ways we can address that false choice and work together to protect the environment. When industries and regulators better understand each other, the economy, public, and environment all benefit.”

“We look forward to working with EPA and the Administration to protect health and the environment while reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens that undermine economic growth,” notes Portland Cement Association Executive Vice President Todd Johnston. “America’s cement manufacturers have a strong track record of finding creative ways to reduce their environmental footprint.”

A sector-based approach can provide increased long-term certainty and predictability; creative solutions based on sound data; and, more sensible policies to improve environmental protection. Leads for each Smart Sector will serve as ombudsmen within EPA. Staff will also conduct educational site tours; host roundtables with agency leadership; analyze data and advise about options for environmental improvement; maintain open dialogue with business partners and their environmental committees; and, develop reports profiling each sector’s impact on the environment and economy.

EPA Associate Administrator for the Office of Policy Samantha Dravis and Chief of Operations Henry Darwin announced the Smart Sectors launch at the agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters in early October. Joining PCA’s Johnston at the event were representatives of the Associated Builders & Contractors, Associated General Contractors of America and American Iron & Steel Institute, along with peers from aerospace, agriculture, automotive, chemical manufacturing, electronics and technology, forestry and wood products, mining, oil and gas, ports and marine, plus utilities and power generation groups.

“The program shows it’s a new day at EPA, and that’s good news for the environment and the economy,” observes ABC CEO Michael Bellman. “The construction industry welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with regulators to ensure that environmental protection is streamlined and cost effective. That’s the way government can help industry be more productive, create more jobs and grow the economy.”

“Finding a way to combine a deep knowledge of how to protect the environment with an understanding of how construction firms operate is the most effective way to craft programs and policies that deliver significant environmental protections to commercial construction sites,” adds AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr. “Administrator [Pruitt] clearly understands that firms will be able to do more to protect the environment if the regulations they must follow are crafted with an understanding of how employers operate.”