Nearly 2,000 AGC members tell EPA to oppose the unfounded effort to regulate the disposal of ubiquitous plastics used in construction.
On February 13, AGC submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agreeing with agency’s tentative plans to reject an environmental group’s request to list discarded polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) as hazardous waste under federal law. According to EPA, the Center for Biological Diversity’s legal petition, filed back in 2014, does not support regulation under the waste law and EPA lacks the needed resources to do so. These valid arguments are outlined in EPA’s “tentative” denial of the petition, on which the agency solicited public comment. AGC urged EPA to firmly and finally deny this petition for rulemaking.
In addition to AGC’s letter, nearly 2,000 AGC members took action and supported EPA’s science-based decision to not undertake this rulemaking. AGC’s environmental leadership also met with EPA staff last week to reiterate AGC’s concerns about any change in the regulatory status of PVC – sharing how it would increase construction materials costs, impact waste management, disrupt already beleaguered supply chains, and put beneficial reuse and recycling activities in jeopardy. PVC is a type of vinyl widely used in construction (e.g., pipes, flooring, roofing, profiles, siding, sheeting, and cables), and it contributes to the quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness of construction materials.
In August 2021, CBD sued EPA over its slow response to the environmental group’s request to list PVC as hazardous waste. In May 2022, EPA published a notice of a consent decree to settle the lawsuit, obligating EPA to make an initial decision in January 2023 (on whether to grant or deny the environmental group’s petition) and to finalize that decision by April 2024. AGC was the only construction organization to publicly oppose the consent decree. AGC also joined with a broad array of stakeholders to push back on the effort. Then on Jan. 12, 2023, EPA published a tentative decision in the Federal Register, agreeing with AGC, not to regulate PVC under the RCRA and denying CBD’s request. AGC and its members have strongly urged EPA to finalize that decision and avoid unnecessary new regulations on the construction industry. Not all PVC plastic presents a substantial hazard and the existing statutory framework is sufficient to address potential environmental risks presented by PVC.
Most of the environmental statutes contain provisions that allow citizens to sue EPA when EPA allegedly fails to perform an act or mandatory duty required by the statute. Those “petitions” are posted to the Agency’s website. AGC has historically frowned upon “sue and settle” practices that sidestep the regulatory agenda review process and derail the agency’s ability to prioritize its resources.