Cement compromise

By Chris Collins, The Baker City Herald

Although we appreciate Rep. Greg Walden's efforts on behalf of Ash Grove Cement's Durkee plant, let's be clear:

Cement plants spew too much toxic mercury into America's air.

That said, the Environmental Protection Agency's new rule limiting mercury emissions is patently unfair to Ash Grove.

The EPA should have recognized that the Durkee plant's situation is

unusual because the limestone it quarries contains higher-than-usual

amounts of mercury.

The company voluntarily spent $20 million on equipment that can trim the Durkee factory's mercury emissions by 90 percent.

Yet EPA's rule ignores Ash Grove's peculiar predicament, and requires all plants to slash mercury output by 98 percent.

That's not reasonable.

But neither is the legislation Walden is supporting. House Joint Resolution 9 would nullify the mercury emissions rule.

That would help Ash Grove, obviously. But overturning the rule also would let off the hook other companies that, unlike Ash Grove, haven't spent millions to clean up their plants.

We hope the resolution will result in the compromise that we've advocated for all along: A rule that significantly reduces mercury pollution, but also acknowledges that, in this case, one size does not fit all.

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The Baker City Herald
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