Today, U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) , Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bob Casey (D-PA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) sent a letter to environmental protection agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on the agency not to include companies that have voluntarily upgraded their facilities in the draft rule that will be released later this summer to limit pollution from ceramic tile manufacturing. The EPA is scheduled to propose National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (“NESHAPs”) for clay ceramics manufacturing facilities located at major sources by August 28, 2014.
Without the senators’ proposed change, Mohawk Industries, which employs 1,200 workers in its Danville, Glasgow, and Hillsville plants, would be listed as a major source of pollution in the EPA’s draft rule, even though the company has already nearly completed voluntary upgrades of its facilities that would reduce its emissions below the major source threshold.
“It is good public policy for EPA to reward this type of voluntary self-regulation,” the Senators wrote. “American tile manufacturers are fighting an uphill battle to maintain market share. Over 70 percent of tile sold in the United States today is imported…A new major source NESHAP that includes the wall and floor tile manufacturing industries would unnecessarily create a stigma of major source pollution by these industries in the eyes of customers.”
Full text of the letter is below:
The Honorable Gina McCarthy
U.S. environmental protection agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
Dear Administrator McCarthy,
On April 10, 2014, a broad bipartisan group of Senate advisors participated in a productive call with representatives from the EPA Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, the Office of General Counsel, and the Office of Congressional Affairs regarding the consent decree requiring EPA to propose National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (“NESHAPs”) for clay ceramics manufacturing facilities located at major sources by August 28, 2014 (“the date of the proposed NESHAPs”). We appreciate the time and attention of these EPA officials to this important issue. We are writing to reaffirm our position that EPA should not include industries in the proposed NESHAPs that will no longer have facilities that exceed the major source threshold as of the date of the proposed NESHAPs.
Based on our call with EPA, we understand that EPA is planning to subcategorize the clay ceramics industry with regard to floor and wall tile. We applaud such an effort. It is our understanding that voluntary action to reduce emissions has resulted in all floor tile manufacturing facilities falling below the major source threshold. Additionally, while one wall tile facility is currently a major source, we understand that the owner of that facility has obtained a federally enforceable permit binding it to install pollution control technology that will reduce the facility’s emissions below the major source threshold, and that this construction project is underway and scheduled to be completed prior to the date of the proposed NESHAPs. As a result of these efforts, prior to the date of the proposed NESHAPs, no ceramic floor or wall tile manufacturer in the country will meet or exceed the major source threshold.
It is good public policy for EPA to reward this type of voluntary self-regulation. As a result of what the ceramic tile industry has done, emissions at all floor and wall tile facilities are scheduled to be below the major source threshold prior to publication of the proposed NESHAPs and at least four years earlier than if industry had waited for EPA to promulgate major source NESHAPs. Alternatively, setting NESHAPs for an industry that is self-regulating and will not include major source facilities at the time that the new NESHAPs are proposed will unnecessarily disadvantage American industry and domestic economic expansion without any improvement to the environment. In particular, we are concerned about the ability of American tile manufacturers to attract business in the face of stiff competition from china and Mexico. Therefore, we request that EPA limit its proposed NESHAPs for clay ceramics facilities located at major sources only to those industries that will include major source facilities as of the date of the proposed NESHAPs. Doing so will not affect the current emissions control regulations for non-major source (i.e. area source and synthetic minor source) clay ceramics manufacturing facilities that are in place.
American tile manufacturers are fighting an uphill battle to maintain market share. Over 70 percent of tile sold in the United States today is imported. To counter this, major domestic companies have recently added capacity at existing facilities and new plants in the U.S. or have announced plans to do so. A new major source NESHAP that includes the wall and floor tile manufacturing industries would unnecessarily create a stigma of major source pollution by these industries in the eyes of customers. Further, foreign companies would use this designation to their advantage when competing with these American industries for projects for which sustainability is a factor. Therefore, while EPA must comply with the consent decree and propose NESHAPs for clay ceramics manufacturing facilities located at major sources, EPA should not go above and beyond what is required by proposing NESHAPs for industries that will not have major source facilities as of the date of the proposed NESHAPs. Tailoring NESHAPs only to industries where there are major sources is critical to advancing compliant domestic capacity, investments on US soil, and American manufacturing job growth.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter and for your consideration of this letter. We look forward to working with EPA to ensure that the pending NESHAPs adhere both to the consent decree and to this request. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.