EPA considering new regulations that could cripple Henry Brick

Published 11:00pm Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering implementing a new Brick MACT, or maximum achievable controlled technology, regulation that would require brick companies, like Selma’s Henry Brick Co. to install new equipment to capture 99 percent of their emissions. To meet the new, proposed requirements, Henry Brick would need to spend roughly $8 million, a feat Henry Brick President Davis Henry said could be crippling to the company.

Henry Brick currently has equipment that captures 93.5 percent of pollutants emitted at their plant — equipment the company spent $1.5 million in 2005 to scrub the kiln gasses and meet the EPA’s Brick MACT standard that was passed in 2003 and then vacated by the courts in 2007.

“Without us being involved in any of this, [the EPA] reached a consent decree, saying this will be the plan moving forward.” Henry said, noting that the ruling is not out yet, but that a proposed rule will be signed later this summer. “The way we look at it, we feel like we’re already doing a pretty good thing, to capture 94 percent of your pollutants. I don’t know percentage-wise what other industries do or other companies do, but I would say that we’re probably in the upper tier of what people are doing. But to require us, after in good faith doing what we did in 2005, to require us to spend $8 million to replace what we did in 2005 — it’s only going to increase our capture by about five percent — doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

Henry sought out the help of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, who after hearing Henry’s case brought the information before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on April 11.

“This regulation is hammering a small American business with a goal of achieving total elimination of any emissions is having a devastating impact on Henry Brick and other brick companies,” Sessions said. “We’re talking about real jobs for real people in Selma, and you’re going to end up with nothing but the big brick companies that have huge cash reserves, if we don’t watch out, being able to sustain these costs, and that’s not good for the country.”

Sessions said Henry Brick has done what was required of them and noted they have made a dramatic improvement in emission reduction, but said that even though they’ve obtained “a more than 90 percent improvement, that’s not enough and it threatens the existence of this company and others in Alabama.”

“This is a regulation that is dangerous,” he said. “[The EPA] needs to know that, and they need to know as they evaluate what a good regulation is, they’ve got to ask how much it’s going to impact jobs and growth and make sure that it’s worth it. And I’m just convinced the new regulation goes beyond what’s required and is damaging.”

Sessions reiterated that it cost Henry Brick $1.5 million to remove 93.5 percent of the emissions and it would cost up to $8 million to get to 99 percent reduction.

“It just doesn’t — there’s no science that I’ve seen that would anywhere justify the need to get to 99 percent at a small plant,” Sessions said. “[The EPA will] publish a regulation this summer and then take input and then propose regulation later. So we’re trying to do the things that are appropriate, which is to try and make sure that these regulators, before they impose the regulation, understand just how damaging it can be to a community like Selma and Dallas County.”

Henry said the EPA is simply going overboard in what they’re proposing for regulation and is encouraged that Sessions has taken up the issue as a cause.

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