Burr, Hagan Lead Bipartisan Group of Senators in Asking EPA to Develop Fair Standards for Brick Industry

WASHINGTON, D.C. - North Carolina Senators Richard Burr and Kay R. Hagan are leading a bipartisan group of Senators in asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop fair and achievable pollution reduction requirements for the country's brick and clay industries. North Carolina has more brick manufactures than any other state in the nation. The industry employs 1,300 North Carolinians and invests more than $47 million in salaries in the state.

"Given our country's fragile economic recovery, this issue is critical for the continued viability of brick manufacturers and distributors in our states and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they generate nationwide," the Senators wrote in a letter today to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew.

"A reasonable and achievable standard will ensure that public health and the environment are protected and that this essential industry can continue to create jobs in our states and help our struggling economy rebound."

The Senators ask the EPA to consider a range of flexible approaches authorized by the Clean Air Act in developing a new brick emissions standard that fairly balance environmental concerns with the need to preserve jobs across the country. The full text of the letter is available here.

Between 2003 and 2006, the brick industry spent an estimated $100 million on pollution control equipment to comply with the original emission control standard. But in 2007, a D.C. Circuit Court overturned this standard, and the EPA is now beginning to consider a new set of rules for the industry. Without fair consideration of the brick industry's previous clean air investments, a new standard could mean manufacturers would have to scrap their recently installed technologies and replace them with more costly controls, potentially leading to closed plants and lost jobs.

Since 2007, more than 6,000 brick manufacturer and distributor jobs have been lost nationwide due to the economic downturn.

"We appreciate Senator Hagan and Senator Burr asking EPA to consider approaches through which EPA can provide flexibility and set a real world achievable standard that protects the health of the people who work in or live near an operating brick plant," said Fletcher Steele, President of Winston-Salem based Pine Hall Brick Company, Inc., the largest supplier of clay pavers in the United States. "The majority of brick being produced in this country is made in plants that already use air pollution controls that exceed the air quality standards issued by EPA in 2003. Setting a standard that small plants can meet at a reasonable cost while still protecting the health of those that live nearby is crucial to protecting the jobs of those who have made brick-making their passion and their career."

Also signing today's letter were the following Senators: Evan Bayh (D-IN), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Robert Casey (D-PA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), George Voinovich (R-OH), and Mark Warner (D-VA).

David Ward (Sen. Burr)


Stephanie Allen (Sen. Hagan)