Earthjustice, the nonprofit environmental law firm which has spent the past decade in court fighting to reduce air pollution from the nation's more than 150 cement kilns, cheered the news.
"Cement plants are among the worst air polluters in this country," said Earthjustice attorney Keri Powell. "Thanks to today's settlement, the families living downwind of Lafarge North America's cement plants -- from Ravena, New York to Alpena, Michigan -- can breathe a little easier."
The facilities included in today's settlement are located in or near: Whitehall, Pa., Ravena, N.Y., Calera, Ala., Atlanta, Ga., Harleyville, S.C., Paulding, Ohio, Alpena, Mich., Tulsa, Okla., Sugar Creek, Mo., Buffalo, Iowa, Fredonia, Kan., Grand Chain, Ill. and Seattle, Wa.
Today's settlement follows a federal proposal to regulate -- for the first time ever -- cement kilns' emissions of mercury, hydrochloric acid, and toxic organic pollutants such as benzene. The proposal, unveiled in April 2009 and expected to be finalized this year, would also strengthen the outdated standards for particulate matter to better control kilns' emissions of lead, arsenic, and other toxic metals.
The new standards were proposed as part of a court settlement reached between the US Environmental Protection Agency, Earthjustice, Sierra Club, community groups in New York, Michigan, Montana, California and Texas, and the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.