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Tonko Floor Remarks on BRICK Act

Mar 7, 2018
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor during consideration of H.R. 1917, the Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns (BRICK) Act of 2017:

Thank you M. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

M. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 1917, the Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns, or BRICK, Act.

EPA issued the Brick and Clay MACT rule in 2015 which sets maximum achievable control technology based on what is already being achieved at similar facilities.

Section 2 of the BRICK Act seeks to delay compliance with the Brick and Clay MACT until “judgment becomes final, and no longer subject to further appeal or review.”

This would incentivize frivolous litigation, simply to put off having to comply with the rule.

Courts already have the ability to issue a “stay” of any compliance dates in a final rule. Congress should not insert itself into the judicial process.

The courts have regularly used this process. There is no reason for Congress to override it.

To date, no one has petitioned the court to stay the Brick and Clay MACT rule.

Section 3 of H.R. 1917 incorporates another bill reported out of the Energy and Commerce Committee, H.R. 453, the Relief from New Source Performance Standards Act.

This section delays implementation of EPA’s Step 2 emissions standards for three categories of wood-fueled heaters.

EPA finalized a rule in 2015.  Under the rule, manufacturers have until 2020 to comply with the new standards. This bill would delay the standards until 2023.

Much like the brick MACT, these standards are achievable.

In a recent list of devices certified under the 2015 standard, 171 devices report certified emission levels that already meet the 2020 standards.

These 2020-compliant products are both cleaner and more efficient, generating more heat per unit of wood burned and making them less expensive to operate.

By delaying these standards, Congress is unfairly punishing companies that made investments to produce cleaner, more efficient products by the original deadline. Since these appliances typically last for 25 years or more once installed, delaying this standard will result in decades of additional pollution in and around peoples’ homes.

The original bill, H.R. 453, was opposed by State Attorneys General of New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

In a letter from December 12, these officials pointed out that EPA estimated the net benefits of implementing the rule at more than 100 times the costs.

Wood smoke contains considerable amounts of fine particle pollution, carbon monoxide, and other toxic pollutants.

In my home state of New York, less than two percent of residents heat their homes with wood. But residential wood heating accounts for forty-one percent of the state’s particulate emissions.

Because the emissions are released close to ground level at homes, there is significant human exposure, which is why this bill is also opposed by a number of public health and medical organizations.

The BRICK Act gives special treatment to a couple of industries by shifting the health and financial burdens of pollution onto the public.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.