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H.R. 1917: Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act of 2017

This was a vote to pass H.R. 1917 in the House.

H.R. 1917 addresses the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Brick and Structural Clay Products Manufacturing and for Clay Ceramics Manufacturing published on October 26, 2015. The bill would extend the compliance dates until after judicial review of the final rule is completed. H.R. 1917 also addresses the Standards of Performance for New Residential Wood Heaters, New Residential Hydronic Heaters and Forced-Air Furnaces, which uses a two phase framework to reduce emissions. The bill extends the deadlines for the second phase of this final rule from 2020 to 2023.

BRICK PROVISIONS The EPA published its final rule entitled ‘‘NESHAP for Brick and Structural Clay Products Manufacturing; and NESHAP for Clay Ceramics Manufacturing’’ (2015 Brick MACT) on October 26, 2015. The EPA has promulgated this rule pursuant to section 112 of the Clean Air Act (CAA), which authorizes the agency to set emissions standards for certain sources that emit mercury and other hazardous air pollutants (HAP). The final rule applies to kilns at brick and structural clay products manufacturing facilities, and at clay ceramics manufacturing facilities. Compliance for existing affected sources is required by December 26, 2018. Prior to issuance of the 2015 Brick MACT, the EPA had issued an earlier version in 2003. This earlier rule required brick plants to install equipment on their kilns to control hydrogen fluoride (HF) and hydrogen chloride (HCl) emissions, and particulate matter as a surrogate for metal HAPs including mercury, and to create work practices to reduce other emissions. While the brick industry spent millions of dollars to comply with the 2003 rule, almost one year after the compliance deadline had passed, that rule was vacated and remanded back to the EPA by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia with direction to rewrite the rule.

In developing its revised rule, the EPA determined that the substantial emissions reductions achieved by the control devices installed under the 2003 rule would be the starting point for the emissions limits under the current rule. The EPA, in its final revised rule, set the level of performance based on the controls installed in response to the now vacated rule. Legal challenges to the final rule are currently pending in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. For the 2015 Brick MACT, concerns have been raised regarding the legality of the rule, including potentially significant costs, which may make compliance impossible for many smaller plants. While the EPA estimates annual costs to comply with the rule to be $25 million, industry estimates have projected the annual costs to be potentially up to $100 million or greater. Concerns have specifically been raised that in developing the final rule, the EPA has incorrectly assumed that brick companies already have or can readily borrow the capital needed to install the required equipment, and that the costs of the rule can be passed on to consumers simply by increasing brick prices. There are an estimated 7,000 workers employed by the brick industry nationwide.

In the 114th Congress, the House passed similar legislation, H.R. 4557, by a vote of 238-163.

WOOD HEATER PROVISIONS On March 16, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its Standards of Performance for New Residential Wood Heaters, New Residential Hydronic Heaters and Forced-Air Furnaces, which uses a two phase framework to reduce emissions. The first phase of this rule took effect in 2015 and has reduced emissions by up to 90 percent with minimal economic interruption. However, the second phase of this rule, ordered to take effect in 2020, is proving to be much more burdensome for manufactures to implement. Manufacturers, most of which are small businesses, are having great difficulty designing compliant models in the short timeframe allowed by the EPA. As a result, some companies have already laid off workers, and others fear they will not be able to stay in business after 2020. Wood heater users, many of which are low-income households, face the likelihood of more expensive wood heaters and reduced product choice if the second phase is implemented as scheduled. The Section 3 wood heater provisions within H.R. 1917 were originally introduced during the 115th Congress as H.R. 453.

Source: Republican Policy Committee

Totals

All Votes R D
Aye 54%
 
 
234
228
 
6
 
No 42%
 
 
180
1
 
179
 
Present 0%
 
 
1
0
 
1
 
Not Voting 3%
 
 
15
8
 
7
 

Date: Mar 7, 2018

Question: On Passage of the Bill in the House

Required: Simple Majority

Result: Passed

Source: house.gov

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