August 16 Arlington - nation's only hearing on a rollback of new air pollution rules for cement plants
Environmentalists are angry at EPA for giving the public less than two weeks notice prior to the nation's only hearing on a rollback of new air pollution rules for cement plants that the agency says could save thousands of lives annually, including many in DFW.
On Friday, EPA announced an August 16th public hearing at Arlington City Hall from 9 am to 7 pm on its controversial proposal to delay the all-but-signed new rules for two years, as well as loosening kiln Particulate Matter pollution standards.
"Getting left at the regulatory alter by the Obama EPA after a 20-year struggle was cruel enough," said Jim Schermbeck, Director of Downwinders at Risk. "But 13 days notice in the middle of summer for a policy that's been delayed for two decades? That's disgraceful."
One of those who came in 2009, and vowed to show up again on the 16th was Ft. Worth resident Margaret DeMoss, who was instrumental in getting her city to adopt a "green cement" policy to reduce pollution from obsolete Midlothian cement kilns in southern DFW.
"EPA should be ashamed. They're taking away rules that had already passed review and it's obvious that the agency's tactics are an attempt to avoid public input by scheduling hearings with little notice during an inconvenient time of year."
"It's outrageous that the EPA would schedule this hearing at the last minute and in only one location in the nation; lot of other regions suffer downwind from cement kilns. Who will speak for them?"
EPA delayed implementing air pollution limits formercury and other toxic substances released by the nation's 100 plus cement plants for more than a decade after the 1991 amendments to the Clean Air Act required them.
Downwinders at Risk and other community groupsrepeatedly sued to get them enforced. That effort resulted in 2010 emission rules that were hailed as the largest single advance in air quality for the US cement industry, and wereuniversally supported by citizens living near and around the nation's cement plants.
They had already passed all necessary regulatory review, just overcome their last legal hurdle, and were on their way to President Obama for his signature and implementation by 2013 when they got yanked by the administration's Office of Management and Budget earlier this year.
When the rules re-emerged, their enforcement was pushed back to 2015 and their strict Particulate Matter pollution provisions were considerably weakened.
According to EPA's own health impact studies for the rules,that two-year delay will cause at least 2000-5000 premature deaths nationwide.
Since DFW is downwind of Midlothian, Metroplex residents are exposed to more cement plant pollution than any other metropolitan area in the country, and represent a disproportional number of these 2-5000 annual deaths that EPA estimates will occur because of its rules delay.
"If these revisions are adopted, DFW residents will be paying a high price for the Administration's retreat," said Schermbeck. "That's why we must make our objections heard now."
He urged those that want to speak at the August 16th hearing to reserve a five-minute slot with EPA coordinator Pam Garrett by e-mailing her at email@example.com or calling