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House to Vote on Cement Industry Environmental Regulations

12:31 PM PDT on October 5, 2011

Republicans have made clear that they don’t think President Obama’s jobs plan, including $50 billion for transportation infrastructure, will create jobs. They would rather remove regulations that cost industry money. They say reducing this “regulatory burden” will create jobs — and they want to start with the cement industry.

The House is currently debating the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act, which would eliminate EPA standards, passed last August, to reduce hazardous air pollution. Industry hackssay regulations currently facing the cement industry could force the closure of 18 of the nearly 100 U.S. cement plants and result in the loss of 4,000 manufacturing jobs. Democrats — and the Congressional Research Service — refute those numbers.

Republicans have been toiling away all year to gut EPA regulations of all stripes — indeed, California Democrat Henry Waxman, ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, today called it “the most anti-environment Congress in history,” having voted 136 times this session to block environmental measures.

But the GOP says this one in particular is a jobs-killer. “The cement industry is in its weakest economic condition since the 1930s,” said Jason Altmire (R-PA) on the floor of the House. He says the bill would simply remove an unnecessary barrier to industry.

About 40 percent of the cement used in the U.S. in a given year is used to surface highways. According to Earthjustice, cement plants are among the nation’s worst toxic polluters. Cement kilns are the second largest source of mercury emissions in the United States, after coal-fired power plants. So essentially, this Republican bill is another government subsidy to the road industry, only this time we’re paying with the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.

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