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Actionline – June 2019

Volume 16, Issue 6

Click here to download a printable copy of this month’s edition.

It’s Time to Speak Up for Concrete (You’re Not as Bad as China!)

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s (D-Colo.) comments during the June 27 Democratic presidential candidate debate should be a wake-up call for ACPPA members and everyone working in concrete-related industries.

In response to a question about climate change from moderator Rachel Maddow, Hickenlooper said that, “If you look at the real problem, CO2, the worst polluters in CO2 is China, is the United States and it’s concrete and its exhalation.” (To see his comments for itself, click here and jump to 4:44).

Industry advocates worry that Hickenlooper’s negative comments about concrete will become a talking point for Democratic candidates seeking the support of environmental voters. While some politicians try to score political points by attacking concrete, they ignore important facts and completely miss that there’s simply no alternative to the “miracle” material ACPPA members and other construction materials producers use to manufacturer their products.

Concrete is the most widely used man-made product on the planet and the second most consumed substance after water. There are lots of reasons: Concrete stands alone among building materials for its long-term durability and resilience. It’s highly fire and water resistant. Its production cost relative to other materials is very low and the key ingredients – cement, water and aggregates – are ubiquitous. It’s also easily cast into complex shapes, adding to its versatility.

The concrete sector has a huge economic impact, contributing $100 billion to the U.S. economy and employing more than 2 million Americans.

There’s also an environmental case for concrete. It lasts for centuries, so the environmental impact of maintenance is low. It can be used to recycle waste without impacting the concrete’s performance, for example by incorporating fly ash and even ground up vehicle tires. And the concrete production process consumes only between a tenth and a third of the energy it takes to produce an equivalent amount of structural steel.

And what about the CO2 argument? There are more surprising facts. Because it’s produced locally, the CO2 emissions associated with shipping the product are lower than for other materials. The cement in concrete structures reacts with the air, effectively reabsorbing some of the CO2 emitted during the production process. Concrete structures are more energy efficient, which is important considering that 90 percent of a building’s greenhouse gas footprint comes from operational energy use. And innovations and changes to the production process (e.g., using lower carbon alternatives as an energy source) promise to continue to reduce CO2 emissions associated with concrete production.

Finally, natural building products aren’t as “eco-friendly” as everyone thinks. A recent study by IISD for the Cement Association of Canada found that life-cycle assessments (LCA) typically don’t account for “biogenic carbon” associated from the extraction and end of life stages of wood building products. As a result, up to 70 percent of total lifecycle emissions associated with wood may be missing from LCAs. “These impacts challenge the prevailing assumption wood constructions materials are less carbon intensive than steel or concrete and should be favored,” IISD said.

For better or worse, in politics perception is reality and perceptions are the basis of policy. It’s up to everyone working in the industry to make sure that our families, friends and, most importantly, elected leaders understand the facts – and the benefits – of what ACPPA members do.

House Passes Interior-Environment Apps Bill, But What About the Senate?

The House of Representatives passed a $383.3 billion package of fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills June 25. The $37.28 billion interior-environment funding bill included in the package would provide $3.11 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water SRFs, an increase of $345 million above the 2019 enacted level and $1.13 billion above the President’s budget request. It would also provide $70 million for targeted grants for drinking water contaminants like lead, nitrates, or other health hazards.

While the House vote is an important step forward for next year’s water infrastructure funding, the process is a long way from completion. The Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to act on any of the FY 2020 bills, despite the fact that the end of the fiscal year is just three months away. In recent years, the appropriations process has become more chaotic and less predictable; the increasingly acrimonious relationship between the White House and House Democratic leaders will only add to the challenge. Look for the appropriations process to continue to play out into the fall.

EPA, FEMA Sign MOU to Support Post-Disaster Recovery, Restoration of Water Infrastructure

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) June 6 to streamline coordination between the two agencies and provide quicker access to EPA’s state revolving funds (SRF) to restore water infrastructure more rapidly after a disaster.

EPA’s Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs provide funding to states to capitalize SRF loan programs, which provide low-interest loans and additional subsidies to public, private, and non-profit entities for eligible drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities, transmission lines and a wide variety of other water and wastewater infrastructure projects.


  • Encourages tribal and local governments to access no-interest or low-interest loans from state revolving funds to help pay for the restoration of vital drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.
  • Allows for loan repayments, state match and interest earnings that are state funds to be reimbursed by FEMA.
  • Allows the SRFs to act as cost-sharing financing sources for a municipality applying for FEMA disaster assistance grant funding.
  • Encourages Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF programs to provide non-federal funds for the purposes of FEMA Cost Share or Interim Loans.

Immediately after a disaster, communities and tribes typically incur expenses for life safety, clean-up and other disaster-related operations. By securing a loan through this MOU quickly after a disaster, a community would not need to expend its own funds first. Normally, communities must pay out of pocket and wait to receive a reimbursement through a FEMA grant for eligible expenses or wait for an emergency supplemental appropriation for disaster relief and recovery from Congress.

Pressure Pipe Post

ACPPA’s Monthly Source for Industry News

June 2019

To keep members aware of the activities of government and standards organizations, we regularly sweep public databases and publications for the industry-specific terms indicated below. We then provide our members with links to documents identified in the search. Please note that in some cases the URLs may link to subscription-only databases. The purpose of this service is to identify emerging threats and trends as well as opportunities for collective action by ACPPA.


Member News

Golfers chip in to raise big bucks for new bus service for seniors
Thanks to sponsors like DECAST, Ltd., warden’s tournament raises more than $28,000 toward county’s Give a Lift Campaign.

Aging Infrastructure

Shelter from the storm — Prioritizing climate change resilient infrastructure
As decisions are made about restoring the nation’s aging infrastructure, we need to make resilience a priority. The key questions are: What are the practical things that can be done to ensure that the new infrastructure will not be wiped out by the next severe weather event or flash fire? When disruptions do occur, what can be done to make sure infrastructure will be up and running again in hours or days, not weeks and months?
[Texas] Century-old pipes cause major problems for city of Palestine
Century-old pipes in Palestine took a big hit during recent severe storms. Wastewater was flooding the streets last week, and now that it has been cleaned up, the city has a decision to make.


[Ohio] The concrete facts on Medusa Cement
From 1892 until 1960, the Medusa Portland Cement Co. employed many area residents. The company, originally named the Sandusky Portland Cement Co., was founded by three brothers in 1892: Spencer, Arthur and William Newberry. The men were all sons of well-known geologist John Strong Newberry.

Coal Ash/Fly Ash

EPA to turn over coal ash program to state in Ga.
Federal regulators are proposing to approve Georgia’s program for the disposal of coal ash generated at power plants and allow state regulators to manage the process going forward.
TVA agrees to remove 12 million tons of coal ash from Gallatin plant, clean contamination
The Tennessee Valley Authority has agreed to dig up 12 million tons of coal ash stored in unlined pits at its Gallatin Fossil Plant in Middle Tennessee and clean up contamination from it, officials announced Thursday.
Tennessee regulators raise red flags over TVA plans for coal ash pit in Anderson County
Tennessee regulators are questioning the Tennessee Valley Authority’s plan to leave five million tons of coal ash in an unlined pit that might be leaking arsenic and other toxins into groundwater in Anderson County.


[Washington] Legislators, officials say long-term plans needed for drought
“I liken trying to find water in a drought to living in a hurricane state and trying to find a generator two days after the hurricane,” Jeff Marti, water resources planner for the state Department of Ecology, told a joint legislative committee at Central Washington University on Wednesday. “It is going to be scarce and the cost will go up. The amount we wanted to invest (in drought response) won’t go as far.”
Drought Legislation
Western senators are introducing drought legislation in the present in an attempt to avoid disaster for the future. The bill is called, Bipartisan Drought Resiliency and Water Supply Infrastructure Act.


[Massachusetts] Budget work set to begin again
In other business, Lynam reported that the DPW Commissioners have engaged Environmental Partners Group to assess the condition of a sewer pipe — installed in 1984 and planned to last 30 to 40 years — which is the subject of major concerns.
[Tennessee] Residents ‘cautiously optimistic’ after sewer meeting
Residents of Sumner County were partially placated after a meeting about a controversial sewer line.
[Texas] Collapsed sewer pipe spills 100K gallons of sewage into Nacogdoches creek
The spill has caused more than 100,000 gallons of raw sewage to spill into the creek for an unknown period of time, according to the City of Nacogdoches.

Water Infrastructure

Detroit plans 5-year, $500 million investment in water infrastructure
Three new businesses including a pipe manufacturer, transportation business and aerospace company are expected to be call Moriarty home in the next year and a half.
USDA investing in projects to improve water infrastructure
Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley today announced that USDA is investing $192 million in 71 projects located across 29 states to improve rural water infrastructure.
Water infrastructure is key to daily life
In honor of National Infrastructure Week, which was recognized May 13 through May 20, Missouri American Water highlighted a water main replacement project near Fatima Drive and Kammerer Avenue in Affton.
Washington Report: AWIA sets the course for next wave of water infrastructure financing
It has been a popular talking point recently in Washington, D.C. to call for action on some sort of “infrastructure bill” that could stimulate the economy, put Americans to work, and begin to rectify the state of our nation’s roads, bridges, and even our water systems. However, those who have not been watching Capitol Hill closely may have missed the news that last fall Congress approved, and President Donald Trump signed into law, one of the most significant drinking water infrastructure bills in a generation. But even with this sizeable accomplishment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) water infrastructure programs remain at risk of future spending reductions.
15 Steps to Keep Foes from Hacking and Hurting Our Water Infrastructure
Water and wastewater utilities provide critical lifeline services to their communities and regions. Clean water is essential for public health, ecosystem protection, and economic strength. Supporting these important functions requires secure information technology and operational technology systems.
Water Infrastructure Woes: How Flooding Impacts Homes and the Water We Rely On
“This is what we like to refer to, us and the county engineer, as the ‘cereal bowl’ of the neighborhood,” he said. “This is where all water, once it starts slowing down and backs up…this is where it all kind of flows out of the creek. This is the worst area down here.”
Texas struggles to keep pace as thirst for water intensifies
About 1,000 people arrive in Texas each day, drawn by jobs, newly built homes and other opportunities. But in a state where prolonged drought is a regular occurrence, officials are struggling to ensure they can sate everyone’s thirst.

Water Supply

[Illinois] Yorkville Officials Say Water Main Flushing Chemical to Aid in Balancing City Water Quality
At this week’s Yorkville City Council meeting, aldermen unanimously approved a supply and purchase engineering agreement to add “Ora-cle” which council documents indicate is, “a chemical that helps in balancing the ammonia, ammonium and chlorine in water.”
Atlantic City utility authority joins 100 towns in suit over tainted water supply
The Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority has joined 100 other towns across the U.S. in suing chemical company DuPont, manufacturing firm 3M and others they allege are responsible for groundwater contamination near airports and industrial sites, including one in Egg Harbor Township.
Michigan updates drinking water lead testing program
Leisl Clark, director of the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, said the change will provide “more precision and more insight into what’s actually happening in the homes.”
Lake Erie gets new tech to prevent drinking water crisis
Early forecasting shows that Lake Erie is due for a larger toxic algae formation that we saw last year — the official term: a harmful algal bloom (HAB), is essentially a giant green blob to those on the sidelines.
Can Utah’s water supply keep up with its booming population?
It was one of the several questions posed at Utah State University’s Research Landscapes series focused on Utah’s waterscapes. The event Tuesday at the O.C. Tanner headquarters in Salt Lake City attracted a mix of state and local government officials, businesses leaders, developers and nonprofit organizations.


[New Mexico] Estancia Valley Economic Development: 180 jobs, three new businesses in Moriarty
Three new businesses including a pipe manufacturer, transportation business and aerospace company are expected to be call Moriarty home in the next year and a half.
[Pennsylvania] Emergency Crews Free Worker Trapped In Sewer Construction Trench In Chester County
Emergency crews freed a construction worker who was stuck up to his waist in a sewer construction trench in Uwchlan Township, Chester County. It happened on Norwood Road and Beech Street around 2 p.m. on Wednesday.


Pressure Pipe

Department of Commerce | Notice | Initiation of Five-Year (Sunset) Reviews
In accordance with the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act), the Department of Commerce (Commerce) is automatically initiating the five-year reviews (Sunset Reviews) of the antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) order(s) listed below. The International Trade Commission (the Commission) is publishing concurrently with this notice its notice of Institution of Five-Year Reviews which covers the same order(s).


Department of Transportation | Notice | Department Regulatory and Deregulatory Agenda; Semiannual Summary
The Regulatory and Deregulatory Agenda is a semiannual summary of all current and projected rulemakings, reviews of existing regulations, and completed actions of the Department. The intent of the Agenda is to provide the public with information about the Department of Transportation’s regulatory activity planned for the next 12 months. It is expected that this information will enable the public to more effectively participate in the Department’s regulatory process. The public is also invited to submit comments on any aspect of this Agenda.


Department of Justice | Notice | Notice of Lodging of Consent Decree Pursuant to the Clean Water Act
On June 20, 2019, the Department of Justice lodged a proposed Consent Decree (‘‘Consent Decree’’) in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, in the lawsuit entitled the United States of America and State of Mississippi v. City of Meridian, Mississippi.
Environmental Protection Agency | Proposed Rule | National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Perchlorate
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a drinking water regulation for perchlorate and a health-based Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The EPA is proposing to set both the enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for the perchlorate regulation and the perchlorate MCLG at 0.056 mg/L (56 [micro]g/L). The EPA is proposing requirements for water systems to conduct monitoring and reporting for perchlorate and to provide information about perchlorate to their consumers through public notification and consumer confidence reports.
Department of Energy | Notice | Integrated System Rate Schedule
The Assistant Secretary has approved and placed into effect on an interim basis Rate Order No. SWPA-73, which provides the following Integrated System Wholesale Rates for Hydro Peaking Power.
Delaware River Basin Commission | Final Rule | Regulatory Program Fees and Water Charges Rates
On July 1 of every year beginning July 1, 2017, the Commission’s regulatory program fees are subject to an annual adjustment. This document provides notice of the Commission’s regulatory program fees and schedule of water charges for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019.
Environmental Protection Agency | Proposed Rule | National Priorities List
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, as amended, requires that the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan include a list of national priorities among the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants throughout the United States. The National Priorities List constitutes this list. The NPL is intended primarily to guide the Environmental Protection Agency in determining which sites warrant further investigation. These further investigations will allow the EPA to assess the nature and extent of public health and environmental risks associated with the site and to determine what CERCLA-financed remedial action(s), if any, may be appropriate. This rulemaking proposes to add two sites to the General Superfund section of the NPL.


Aging Infrastructure

S. 2044 | Introduced by Sen. McSally, Martha [R-Ariz.] | A bill to amend the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009


S. 1932 | Introduced by Sen. Gardner, Cory [R-Colo.] | Drought Resiliency and Water Supply Infrastructure Act


H.R. 3363 | Introduced by Rep. Moulton, Seth [D-Mass.] | Sewage Treatment Overflow Prevention through Community Sanitation Outreach Act of 2019


H.R. 3510 | Introduced by Rep. Hardner, Josh [D-Calif.] | To amend the Water Resources Research Act of 1984
S. 1811 | Introduced by Sen. Barasso, John [R-Wyo.] | A bill to make technical corrections to the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, and for other purposes.
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