EPA should consider proposal’s effect on industry

Published 12:41pm Friday, December 6, 2013

Selma’s locally owned businesses are the lifeblood of the city. Chain stores come and go, but many of the family owned businesses that comprise our economy have been in Selma for generations.

The Henrys are one example of a famliy that started in Selma and still operate today. JD Henry started Henry Brick Company started in 1945. It is now in its third generation of direction, but still operated by the same family that has provided jobs  and a way of life for hundreds of Selma residents.

Now, the company is facing potential adversity in the form of the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA wants to put in place emissions standards that would require the company to capture 99 percent of emissions, 5 percent more than the Henry Brick currently captures.

The increase is problematic because the company just spent millions to increase its emission capture rate and would have to spend nearly $8 million more to reach the proposed standards.

Perhaps the EPA is also being unfair to the brick industry with the 99 percent capture rate proposal. The EPA says there’s no rule in place to govern brick emissions and it’s right. But 10 years ago it introduced a rule requiring brick companies to comply with a 94-percent rate.The rule was struck down by a federal court, but most companies had already invested in the neccesary new technology.

The Henry family has a strong partern in U.S. Sen. Jeff Session (R-Ala.), who visited the facility this week and argued that the increase in standards is an example of uneccesary regulation.

We’re all for protecting the environment and reducing health hazards, but Henry Brick doesn’t emit dangerous toxins and shouldn’t be subject to additional regulations. The brick industry isn’t even in the running for the largest man-made producer of greenhouse gas.

Sessions says he will take on the EPA and fight the uneccsary regulation and we hope he is succesful. He said one potential proposal is to reinstate the former rule, which would likely have little to no effect on Henry Brick.

Though Henry Brick President Davis Henry said layoffs would be a last resort, they are possible.

Before the EPA proposes a new emission-capture rate, it’s staff should consider the effect of the regulations — not only the cost to the companies affected but also to the families that would be without a monthly income.

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