NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, as head of a coalition of five attorneys general, urged the House of Representatives on Monday to reconsider a current resolution that he says could put New York communities in harm's way.
In a letter to Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Schneiderman expressed the coalition's desire to see House Joint Resolution No. 9 be stopped.
This resolution, the attorneys general believe, would undo strict, new limits on the cement industry's emissions of mercury and other toxic substances hazardous to human health and the environment.
At issue are regulations that were put in place to address mercury and other toxic emissions from Portland cement.
Portland cement, the most common type of cement, is a basic ingredient in concrete, mortar, stucco and grout.
New York 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. Together, these cement plants discharge approximately 170 pounds of mercury in the air each year, Schneiderman claims.
The restrictions were originally issued by the federal Environmental Protection Agency in September 2010 after a successful lawsuit brought by New York and other states under the federal Clean Air Act.
"In addition to mercury reductions, the EPA regulations will require new and existing cement plants to clean up their emissions of other harmful pollutants, collectively reducing hydrochloric acid emissions by 97 percent, particulate matter emissions by 92 percent, total hydrocarbons by 83 percent, and sulfur dioxide emissions by 78 percent," Schneiderman said. "Based on EPA's analysis, the regulations will prevent approximately 2,500 premature deaths from occurring."
Schneiderman said that the resolution would weaken hard-fought protections for health and the environment.
The other attorneys general joining with Schneiderman are from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Massachusetts.