Recap of Recent AGC Successes: EPA Has Agreed to Slow Down or Change Course on Many Fronts
Future actions must better reflect enormous economic risks as well as environmental rewards, AGC says
Even at a time of great economic stress, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has remained poised to enact a series of mandates that threaten to cost millions of Americans their jobs and increase the cost of critical construction projects. Fortunately, AGC has been successful this year in slowing down – and in some cases abolishing – a host of significant environmental rules. This issue of AGC’s Environmental Observer is devoted to sharing AGC’s recent successes. The Association will continue to work hard on the construction industry’s behalf to make sure that EPA continues to follow a sound and defensible course.
Most notably, EPA has delayed finalizing a “numeric limit” on the amount of dirt the agency will allow in stormwater from construction sites. AGC vigorously objected to the “Mud Rules” as costly and unrealistic. Now EPA plans to slow-down and collect additional data from construction and development sites and other stakeholders before proposing a nationwide turbidity discharge limit – thereby giving temporary relief to struggling contractors.
In a similar vein, AGC has successfully pushed this administration to re-examine, and/or slow down on promulgating, other environmental regulations with massive economic costs and dubious environmental benefits.
- As advocated by AGC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reportedly delayed its release of controversial new rules to restrict stormwater that washes off land development sites after construction work is completed. We can now expect to see a “post-construction” stormwater proposal in December 2011 (instead of September 2011). This extra time hopefully will allow the agency to resolve many of the legal, authority and process issues that AGC has repeatedly expressed to both EPA and Congressional staff with regard to first-time national post-construction rules.
- AGC commented against EPA’s proposal to tighten the national ozone standard, which would result in construction bans in geographic areas designated “nonattainment.” EPA will now wait until 2013 to act and use the latest science, saving the entire business industry up to $90 billion annually.
- AGC’s comments led EPA to abandon its plan to require contractors to perform lead-dust sampling and testing on projects covered by the LRRP rule, saving industry $300 million per year and setting the stage for expansion of the program to public and commercial buildings.
- Following AGC’s counsel, EPA eased the compliance burden and costs on contractors covered by the federal Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule. These reforms will allow “low-risk” construction sites to develop “self-certified” SPCC Plans (in lieu of PE-certification) and use EPA’s SPCC Plan template to comply with the SPCC rule, saving approximately $3,000 per project. AGC wrote guidance to help contractors meet the upcoming Nov. 2011 deadline to develop/implement compliance SPCC Plans.
- AGC submitted a 112-page comment letter plus 12 exhibits to the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) regarding their proposed guidance—Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act; this work was performed through a coalition of organizations representing the housing, mining, agriculture, and energy sectors. AGC also signed--with the National Conference of State Legislators, the United States Conference of Mayors, and other state and industry groups--a joint letter to the agencies that notes our shared concerns about the increased burden on state administrators and anticipated permitting delays.
- AGC has informed EPA and Congress of the potential negative impacts on the beneficial use of fly ash in concrete should the Agency classify coal combustion waste as a hazardous material; road building costs would go up $100 billion over 20 years without fly ash. Responding to industry concerns, EPA will soon ask the public to review brand new information it has collected on the management and disposal of coal combustion waste (CCW) (e.g., fly ash) and has abandoned plans to propose a rulemaking this year.
Path Moving Forward
AGC maintains that all future EPA rulemakings should be based on transparency, sound science and reasoned decision-making that accounts for economic and other relevant factors. The agency should proceed in accordance with all relevant requirements for public participation in its decision-making process; for the protection of small businesses; and for meeting the desired objectives of limiting any excessive costs, burdens and uncertainty of federal regulatory requirements.
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