Wicker: BRICK Act Would Block Obama-Era EPA Overreach

Miss. Senator’s Bill Would Build in Regulatory Certainty for Brick Manufacturers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today attended a subcommittee hearing to consider his legislation, S. 839, the “Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act” (BRICK Act). The legislation would allow for the completion of any pending judicial review of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations prior to requiring compliance.

“When we weigh the pluses and minuses of any of these (regulations), we need to weigh the cost of the loss of jobs against the benefit,” Wicker said.

Brick manufacturers have suffered heavy losses since the recession, shedding 45 percent of jobs between 2005 and 2012. Over half of American brick manufacturers are family-driven small-businesses. Increased compliance costs from EPA regulations are driving more job-losses and consolidations in the industry.

In 2003, EPA required brick companies to install expensive new equipment to help control emissions based upon the agency’s Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule. In 2007, after companies spent more than $100 million implementing these controls, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated the rule.

In 2015, the Obama Administration expanded the 2003 rule and began requiring companies to begin new costly compliance procedures. The updated rule could burden the brick industry with a price tag of an additional $100 million annually to increase emissions controls by only a few percent over the 2003 levels. This rule is pending judicial review and could be overturned – repeating the 2003 scenario and contributing to regulatory uncertainty for the industry.

At today’s hearing, Wicker asked Davis Henry, President of Henry Brick in Selma, Ala., to comment on his testimony about the sale of Mississippi-based Columbus Brick Company to General Shale. Columbus Brick Company was previously a fourth-generation, family-owned company established in 1890 in Columbus, Miss. Mr. Henry’s testimony indicated that Al Puckett, the former owner and CEO of Columbus Brick, sold his company to the world’s largest brick manufacturer because of increasing compliance costs and regulatory uncertainty introduced by the EPA’s slate of brick manufacturing regulations.

Wicker’s BRICK Act is co-sponsored by Senators Shelly Moore Capito, R-W. Va., James Inhofe, R-Okla., John Boozman, R-Ark., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., John Kennedy, R-La., and Luther Strange, R-Ala.