Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions
Issue: As policy makers in Washington attempt to craft a comprehensive climate policy, whether through federal regulations or legislation, cement manufacturers have emerged as key stakeholders in ongoing efforts by EPA and Congress.
Background: The portland cement industry was among the first sectors to tackle the issue of climate change, and remains at the forefront of developing policies and improving the manufacturing process to reduce GHG emissions. Carbon dioxide, CO2, is the major GHG produced by portland cement manufacturing.
Carbon dioxide emissions from a cement plant are divided into two source categories: combustion and calcination. Each accounts for about one-half the total CO2 emissions from a cement manufacturing facility. The combustion-generated CO2 emissions are related to fuel use. The calcination CO2 emissions are formed when the raw material is heated and CO2 is liberated from the limestone. Calcination is a necessary key to cement production. Therefore, the focus of reductions in CO2 emissions during cement manufacturing is on energy use.
PCA Perspective: In order to reduce its carbon footprint while simultaneously reducing energy costs, by 2020, the cement industry aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 10 percent below the 1990 baseline levels. To achieve this goal, the cement industry has adopted a three-part strategy:
1. Improve the energy efficiency by upgrading plants with state-of-the-art equipment;
2. Improve product formulation to reduce energy of production and minimizes the use of natural resources;
3. Conduct research and develop new applications for cement and concrete that improve energy efficiency and durability.
Status: While Congress has not passed comprehensive climate legislation during the 112th Congress, industry groups are facing various EPA rules that regulate GHGs. In September 2011, cement makers filed their first reports pursuant to EPA’s Mandatory Reporting Rule for GHG emissions. Also during the 112th Congress, many lawmakers have offered various bills that would mitigate the impact of EPA’s so-called “tailoring rule,” promulgated in May 2010, which will cap GHG emissions from the largest emitters through the New Source Review (NSR) permitting program.