Washington, D.C. - The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC of America) and its two California chapters are asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to defer or deny California's pending request for approval to implement a new rule that would force construction companies across the state to retrofit, retire or replace almost all of their heavy construction equipment.
The association noted it had recently petitioned the California Air Resources Board to revisit its "In?Use Off?Road Diesel?Fueled Fleets Regulation" because that rule would impose an excessive burden on the state's struggling construction industry. In its comments to the EPA, the association added that the California rule does not meet the criteria for a waiver of federal preemption under the Clean Air Act. "Granting this waiver would force losses and layoffs in the state's construction industry and send the wrong signal at the wrong time nationwide," said Stephen Sandherr, the Chief Executive Officer of AGC of America. "At a time when we are trying to stimulate the economy, this rule would do just the opposite."
EPA's decision could have impacts beyond California, the association noted. If the EPA granted the waiver, other states would have the legal authority to implement the same costly and unsafe rule. "Giving this rule the green light would give a red light to widespread plans to jump start the economy through construction," Sandherr noted.
The association explained that California's Department of Industrial Relations (Cal/OSHA) has found that retrofitting existing construction equipment to meet the new standards may actually violate construction safety standards. One result is that builders would have to spend much more than the state expected to come into compliance. Unable to retrofit, contractors would have to replace a much higher percentage of their diesel?powered construction equipment.
The association also noted that the "well?meaning" rule is no longer necessary because the economic decline has led to a significant reduction in the construction industry's consumption of diesel fuel. Indeed, at current levels, the construction industry is below the state's emissions targets.
"This rule will needlessly force builders to throw away billions of dollars worth of equipment," said Jim Ryan, the Executive Vice President of the association's San Diego Chapter. "It's time to inject some common sense," added Tom Holsman, the Chief Executive Officer of the AGC of California.
The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is the largest and oldest national construction trade association in the United States. AGC represents more than 33,000 firms, including 7,500 of America's leading general contractors, and over 12,500 specialty-contracting firms. More than 13,000 service providers and suppliers are associated with AGC through a nationwide network of chapters. Visit the AGC Web site at www.agc.org.