A Maguire Energy Institute study released last month projects bruising capacity and employment fallout among the consequences of a proposed U.S. Environmental
A Maguire Energy Institute study released last month projects bruising capacity and employment fallout among the consequences of a proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cement industry rule. Citing the potential for reduced domestic powder output and increased import levels attributable to the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), author Dr. Bernard Weinstein contends, The employment impact of the infrastructure component of future economic stimulus programs can be impaired by as much as 40 percent if construction materials are produced abroad. The total economic footprint of the cement industry, combined with construction projects made viable by affordable and reliable cement supplies, probably accounts for millions of jobs and more than $1 trillion of the nation’s output.
Dr. Weinstein is associate director of Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business, Dallas. Announcing study results at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., he was joined for a panel discussion by Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s Michael Joyce, director of Legislative Affairs. Based on SMU Cox School of Business research, they noted how in 2008, nearly $27.5 billion of America’s economic activity, or gross output, was tied to cement production. The industry provided 17,000 jobs directly and indirectly, accounted for approximately 153,000 jobs nationwide, and $7.5 billion in wages and benefits.
With continued focus on jobs and associated infrastructure investment as a means of stimulating the economy, the study focuses on how the proposed NESHAP regulations may affect U.S. government initiatives to spur job creation, rehabilitate old infrastructure and reinvest in new projects. It also tracks how the cement industry, independent of EPA regulations, continues to make strides to meet powder demand while simultaneously reducing emissions and milling clinker efficiently.
EPA concedes that proposed regulations will result in $340 million of new costs to the cement industry and a nearly 10 percent drop in domestic production Û forcing plants to operate at a lower capacity or shutter operations altogether, resulting in an uptick of cement supply imports and off-shoring of U.S. jobs. The agency is expected to make final NESHAP rulings on the industry in summer 2010.
Speaking on the SMU report’s conclusions concerning the potential of such a high percentage of construction materials being imported rather than produced domestically, Portland Cement Association President Brian McCarthy said, Domestic cement production is responsible for keeping America’s construction industry afloat, even as the nation struggles to regain its economic footing. By producing cement within our borders, we keep Americans employed and reduce our reliance on foreign sources contributing to the health our economy and a reduction in greenhouse gases due to less importation and transport of supplies.