US Cement Industry: Thrown Under the Truck?

As our nation pushes toward an ambitious goal of doubling exports between 2010 and 2015, the potential for export growth for some well-established US industries seems dire. Adding on the complex layer of environmental regulations reduces the odds for growth even further. It’s a frustrating double standard we live by… as citizens and business people, we are all stewards of the environment. But, at what point do regulations designed for preserving the health of the planet and of our common welfare cause diminishing returns?

A recent take on the cement industry points out the effect that far-reaching environmental regulation has on the health of the cement industry, both domestic and export. One industry veteran, who owns an industrial filter supplies company with a strong balance of both domestic and foreign revenue, told me recently that “with these regulations, you are putting the death nail into the North American cement industry.”

Meanwhile, “…cement from less regulated, less enforced (read less costly) areas such as China can be easily transported via ocean vessels to the North American markets. This “leakage” would effectively kill off all cement manufacturing in North America.”

So how does an industry fight back? This supplier brings up an interesting concept: a sort of environmental tariff on imported cement that’s been produced under less-stringent standards and is being brought in to the US (burning fossil fuels while en route here, by the way), thereby causing more environmental damage when used in the US than those product lines made here, under our tough regulations.

He reasons that a cement tariff on imports from offshore producers with sub standard controls and compliance certifications would be the answer. “If that does not fly with the WTO as protectionist, then apply it to any producers and see how thoroughly and quickly US ones comply, when compared to overseas competitors.. truly a free market is in play then.”

Learn more about the cement industry at:
Portland Cement Association website

EPA regulations

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