Attorneys General Urge Upton to Let Toxic Emissions Rules Stand

New York's Schneiderman warns that proposed resolution would weaken protections from mercury emitted by cement plants.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, leading a coalition of attorneys general from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Massachusetts, called on the U.S. House of Representatives leadership to rebuff efforts to remove critical environmental regulations that protect New York communities from toxic pollution, according to a press release from his office.

In a letter to U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Schneiderman and his fellow attorneys general detail their opposition to House Joint Resolution No. 9, which would undo strict, new limits on the cement industry’s emissions of mercury and other toxic substances hazardous to human health and the environment. The resolution was referred to Upton’s committee on Feb. 1.

These restrictions, issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in September, are the result of a successful lawsuit brought by New York and these other states under the federal Clean Air Act.

“Overturning common-sense environmental regulations so that the cement industry’s interests are prioritized over the air New Yorkers breathe, is simply unconscionable,” Schneiderman said. “This resolution would block the protections our coalition of state attorneys general fought to put in place, and reverse the gains we’ve made in protecting public health from hazardous air pollutant emissions by the cement industry. We strongly oppose this misguided resolution, and will continue to work to keep our families and communities safe from mercury and other harmful pollutants.”

The regulations at issue address mercury and other toxic emissions from Portland cement plants nationwide, including in New York.

Portland cement is the most common type of cement and a basic ingredient of concrete, mortar, stucco and grout. New York state is home to three Portland cement plants: the Lafarge plant in Ravena, the Holcim plant in Catskill, and the Lehigh Northeast plant in Glens Falls. Collectively, these three plants discharge roughly 170 pounds of mercury emissions in New York’s air each year – about 20 percent of all mercury emitted annually in the state.