On Jan. 31, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a controversial decision to block or “veto” a Clean Water Act section 404 permit for the Pebble Mine in Alaska. Last year, AGC raised concerns that EPA’s preemptive veto of the permit would set a harmful precedent for future projects working through the permitting and/or appeals process and have a chilling effect on infrastructure development. The permit in question was undergoing an administrative appeal (still pending) following the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ denial.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reconsidered the 2020 determination that retained the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM) and has proposed to tighten the primary annual PM2.5 standard outside of the normal five-year framework for these changes. AGC closely monitors and weighs in on these rulemakings as they may include stricter requirements and/or restrictions on diesel engines and their use. If an area of the country does not meet the standards, then the federal government can introduce sanctions such as caps on development and the loss of federal funding for highway projects.
On Jan. 18, the Associated General Contractors of America joined a coalition representing a broad cross-section of the economy in filing a lawsuit to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers’ new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. The legal action seeks to have the new rule put on hold and ultimately reversed. The construction industry invests a significant amount of time and cost in compliance with the Clean Water Act and to avoid or reduce potential impacts on the environment. The new rule is the sixth time the requirements have changed in seven years, compounding the existing uncertainty in an area of law that can not only significantly delay and increase costs on projects but also bring criminal as well as civil penalties.
New guidance instructs federal agencies to develop implementation rules that would quantify greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and incorporate the social cost of carbon in cost/benefit analysis that could impact permits for construction projects.
On January 12, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sided with AGC in tentatively denying an environmental group’s effort to force contractors to dispose of discarded PVC as a hazardous waste.
On Dec. 30, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a final rule to newly define “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). AGC has been working to bring clarity to the question of when a costly and time-consuming federal water permit is required on projects (vs. a state permit). The agencies released the rule as the U.S. Supreme Court is deciding on a case that will have bearing on the definition of WOTUS. Furthermore, the agencies also have previously stated that they plan a second round of changes in a Phase Two rulemaking.
Construction has one of the highest suicide rates of all major industry groups. AGC of America is launching a new effort to combat the silent epidemic of suicide and other mental health issues plaguing our workforce. As part of this effort, we are releasing a series of videos telling the stories of real industry professionals who have struggled with mental health. We hope that in sharing their stories, others will know they are not alone, and it is okay to seek help when it is needed. For more information and resources, visit agc.org/mental-health-suicide-prevention.
The FAR Council’s new proposed rule creates two new categories for federal contractors – significant contractors and major contractors – which trigger significant reporting requirements related to greenhouse gas emissions.
February 16, 2023, at AGC’s Headquarters in Arlington, Va.