EPA Announces Settlements with Glass and Cement Makers

By: Derek Leslie, Staff Member

In late January, the EPA announced that Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc., a glass manufacturer, and Lafarge North America, Inc., a cement manufacturer, both agreed to multi-million dollar settlements. The settlements, which cover fifteen glass manufacturing plants and thirteen Portland cement manufacturing plants, represent the first major EPA action since announcing a renewed focus on improving compliance among industries that emit significant amounts of air pollution. Under the settlements, the companies are required to install new pollution control upgrades, accept enforceable emission limits, and pay substantial civil penalties.

In the complaint, filed concurrently with the settlement statement, the EPA alleged the companies had violated new source permit provisions under the Clean Air Act ("CAA"). The CAA requires major sources of air pollution to obtain a permit before modifying the facilities in a way that would significantly increase the emissions of pollutants. CAA permits limit these emissions for specific pollutants at a particular facility. As part of the settlement, Saint-Gobain has agreed to install pollution control equipment totaling an estimated $112 million in order to reduce emissions of NOx, SO2, and particulate matter (PM) by approximately 6,000 tons each year. Additionally, they have agreed to pay a $2.25 million civil penalty, split between the federal government, ten states, and two regulatory agencies. Similarly, Lafarge has agreed to pay a $5 million civil penalty, and spend an estimated $170 million installing and implementing control technologies to curb NOx emissions by 9,000 tons each year and SO2 by more than 26,000 tons per year at their cement plants.

These settlements are an example of more rigorous EPA oversight over CAA emissions, and indicate that the EPA will be enforcing the act more aggressively, pushing NSPS permitting beyond the paradigmatic regulated industries. Indeed, Ignacia Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division in the announcement suggested, "Enforcing the Clean Air Act's new source review program is a priority, not just in the coal-fired power plant industry, but also in industries like cement and glass manufacturing that have been identified as major sources of pollution. Companies in these industries should strongly consider the benefits of these types of settlements as we intend to aggressively enforce compliance with the law."

Source: United States Announces Two Major Clean Air Act New Source Review Settlements at 28 Industrial Plants Nationwide, January 21, 2010, http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/3CCB6EBF63B522AF852576B2006439B7