240 Days Until 3 Percent Withholding Begins – Action Needed
AGC continues to urge Congress to
repeal the 3 percent withholding mandate on federal, state, and local
government contracts. Starting January 1, 2012, public owners will begin
withholding 3 percent of every payment to contractors for goods and services,
legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to repeal this mandate.
Grassroots contact from AGC members is very important. To write your legislators
and urge them to cosponsor the legislation, click here.
The House bill, H.R.
674, currently has 86 cosponsors and two Senate bills, S. 89 and S.164, have 14
cosponsors. The number of House cosponsors has more than doubled since AGC’s
convention. To see if your Senators and Representative are or have been a
cosponsor of legislation to repeal the 3 percent withholding mandate, click here.
For more information, contact Jeff Shoaf at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Proposed New Construction General Permit Guaranteed to Change the Way Contractors Manage Stormwater Runoff
Comments Deadline June 24
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a draft revised
construction general permit (CGP) for public comment to regulate stormwater
discharges from active sites where EPA is the permitting authority. The revised
CGP will replace the current 2008 CGP, which is set to expire on June 30.
EPA concurrently proposed to extend the current CGP
through January 31, 2012, in order to give the Agency time to promulgate the
new CGP in final form. The proposed new
CGP includes significant modifications that would increase the costs, labor,
and paperwork burdens and liability for construction site operators tasked with
stormwater compliance. States authorized to run their own stormwater permit
programs are expected to follow EPA’s lead in adopting enhanced protections.
EPA will accept comment on the proposed new CGP through June 24.
Major proposed changes to the current CGP aim to
implement the new “Effluent
Limitations Guidelines” for the “Construction and Development Industry”
(C&D ELG rule), which took effect on February 1, 2010. See
74 Fed. Reg. 62996, Dec. 1, 2009 and
40 CFR 450.21. All permitting
authorities (EPA as well as the states) are required to incorporate the new
C&D ELG requirements into their construction stormwater permits upon next
reissuance. Those requirements include a
suite of mandatory erosion and sediment controls, soil stabilization practices,
pollution prevention measures, surface outlet protections, and dewatering
practices that apply to all permitted construction sites. The C&D ELG rule also for the first time
imposes an enforceable numeric turbidity limit on stormwater discharges from
sites disturbing 10 acres or more at one time and requires monitoring and
reporting to ensure compliance with the numeric limit. [NOTE: As
previously reported by AGC, EPA has stayed
the numeric limitation of 280 NTU (nephelometric turbidity units) that was
published final C&D ELG rule. EPA will propose a revised NTU limit in a
future rulemaking. The revised CGP includes a placeholder for the recalculated
numeric turbidity limit (as well as corresponding permit requirements for
monitoring, reporting, and the acreage threshold) because EPA plans to
incorporate the recalculated numeric limit into the final permit.].
In November 2009, The Wall Street Journal reported
that the effluent limitation rules could add nearly $1 billion in annual costs
to construction projects.
Construction sites disturbing one or more acres of land
or smaller sites that are part of a common plan of development or sale are
required to obtain permit coverage for their stormwater discharges. EPA’s CGP applies in areas where the EPA is the
permitting authority. These areas presently include four states (i.e., Idaho,
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Mexico); the District of Columbia; Puerto
Rico; all other U.S. territories, with the exception of the U.S. Virgin
Islands; federal facilities in four states (i.e., Colorado, Delaware, Vermont,
and Washington); and most Indian lands and for a few other specifically
designated activities in specific states.
Other significant proposed permit modifications include:
- Eligibility for emergency-related construction
- Changes to the permit authorization process
use of the electronic notice of intent process
“secondary operator” category
period to increase from 7 to 30 days for new sources
- New requirements for discharges to impaired
monitoring of discharges if disturbing 10+ acres at one time and reporting
stabilization requirements and more frequent inspections
- Corrective action requirements
- More specific provisions on
training and documentation
protocols and procedures
More information on the proposed CGP is available here. AGC will provide further details on the
significant proposed permit modifications in AGC’s Environmental
Observer and conduct extensive member outreach as it works to prepare comments
and recommendations for EPA.
Free EPA Webcast
EPA will host a webcast presentation on Tuesday, May 24
from 1:00 to 3:00 pm ET to discuss the proposed new CGP. The webcast will cover the new requirements
of the proposed CGP and provide participants an opportunity to ask questions of
EPA staff. Online registration for this
will be open soon on EPA’s website.
For more information, contact Leah Pilconis
at (703) 837-5332 or email@example.com.
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House Considering Bills to Increase Domestic Energy Production
AGC wrote to the House of Representative this week to
urge support for several House bills that will allow increased energy
production and lead to a more stable energy market for major consumers of
energy, including the construction industry.
The first bill authored by House Natural Resources
Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), passed today in a 266-149 vote.
AGC noted that there is no immediate fix for meeting the
nation’s energy needs, but urged consideration of all energy options to ensure
the construction industry has consistent access. A growing and vibrant industry
relies heavily on reliable long-term source of energy, and is extremely susceptible
to price spikes and product scarcity.
View the letter here.
For more information, contact Jeff Shoaf at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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AGC Testimony to Address Clean Diesel Legislation
AGC will present testimony at a hearing next week before
a Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee, which is looking into
initiatives to reduce diesel emissions in clean air non-attainment areas.
Bob Lanham, Williams Brothers Construction Company, will
address various incentives that can be used to speed up the development of
technologies to help reduce various emissions from diesel powered construction
equipment. AGC’s testimony will point out that initiatives aimed at diesel
retrofit and repowering of existing equipment must be proven to be effective
and not adversely impact the operation of the equipment or the safety of the
Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Clean Air
and Nuclear Subcommittee, intends to include language in the transportation
reauthorization legislation to use a portion of federal highway funds intended
to be used for clean air initiatives to provide incentives to contractors to
upgrade their equipment. AGC is working with Carper’s staff to ensure the
provision does not have a negative impact on the construction industry.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at
(703) 837-5319 or email@example.com.
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Draft Surface Transportation Bill Makes Rounds
Last week, a draft surface transportation reauthorization
bill started making the rounds on Capitol Hill. The draft, which was not
very informative, was then followed by a more complete (yet undated) 500-page
draft called the Transportation Opportunities Act.
The Transportation Opportunities Act and a Department of Transportation section-by-section
analysis of the bill provide clear indications
on the administration’s priorities heading into the surface transportation
reauthorization debate. Even though high speed rail funding was slashed
in the final fiscal year 2011 continuing resolution, the president keeps it as
a top priority by providing $53 billion over six years for a high speed rail
program. The administration also remains committed to its livability
agenda through the creation of a formula-based Livable Communities Program,
which would be funded at $23 billion over six years. In addition, they
propose two discretionary grant programs: the Livable Communities Demonstration
Grant Program ($3 billion over six years) and the Livable Capacity Grant
Program ($2 billion over six years). These two programs lack detail but
DOT’s intention is to increase funding for sidewalks and bike paths and further
develop the HUD-EPA-DOT interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
The draft bill does call for significant increase in
funding for both highways and transit but does not identify any new revenue
sources to pay for such increases. Considering President Obama has said
he will not increase the gas tax to fund any surface transportation bill, it is
unlikely a bill will include the increases suggested in the Administration’s
The administration’s proposal does provide for increased
tolling as a way to increase revenue. They would allow great flexibility
for state and local governments to impose tolls on highways, bridges and
tunnels. The first tolling option focuses on Metropolitan Congestion
Reduction and permits state and local governments to toll existing highways,
bridges, and tunnels (including Interstate) for the purpose of improving
congestion in metropolitan areas over one million people. The second
option focuses on Interstate System Improvements and allows for the collection of
tolls on Interstate highways, bridges, and tunnels for the purpose to initially
construct new Interstate facilities and/or adding one or more lanes to existing
Interstate. They also call for the creation of National
Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund to help finance major transportation
The proposal also aims to improve project delivery
through the creation of a Project Delivery Acceleration Initiative. The
goal of this initiative according the draft is to “identify and promote the
deployment of innovation aimed at reducing the time and money it takes to
deliver transportation projects while enhancing safety and protecting the
environment.” As spelled out in the proposal, DOT will be engaging with
stakeholders about how best to improve project delivery and reduce costs.
AGC looks forward to sharing our ideas with DOT on how best to achieve this
Although this document is a positive step in getting the
conversation moving on reauthorization, it must be taken with a grain of
salt. DOT has not confirmed whether it is the proposal that they plan on
sending to the Hill, but it does provide a roadmap to the
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill
at (202) 547-8892 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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U.S. Labor Department Aims to Protect Workers from Heat-related Illnesses
Occupational Safety and Health Administration launches national outreach campaign
On April, 26, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced a national
outreach initiative by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and
Health Administration to educate workers and their employers about the hazards
of working outdoors in the heat and steps to prevent heat-related illnesses.
Heat can be a real danger for workers in jobs ranging from
agriculture and landscaping to construction, road repair, airport baggage
handling and even car sales.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of
Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) data, 230 heat-related deaths have occurred
from 2003 – 2009 with 81 (40%) of these fatalities in the construction industry.
Over that same time period, 15,370 heat-related injuries/illnesses requiring
days away from work have occurred with 4,110 (27%) of these injuries/illnesses
in the construction industry.
OSHA has developed heat illness educational materials in English and Spanish,
as well as a curriculum to be used for workplace training. Additionally, a new Web page
provides information and resources on heat illness – including how to prevent
it and what to do in case of an emergency – for workers and employers.
Federal OSHA has worked closely with the California Occupational Safety and
Health Administration to adapt materials from that state's successful outreach
campaign on heat illness for use in this national effort. In addition, OSHA is
now partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on
weather service alerts that will incorporate worker safety precautions when
heat alerts are issued across the U.S. NOAA also will include pertinent worker
safety information on its Heat Watch Web page at http://www.noaawatch.gov/themes/heat.php.
For more information, contact Kevin Cannon at email@example.com.
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AGC Meeting Brings Contractors, Agencies Together
AGC’s Federal Contractors Conference attracted nearly 400
people to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with 20 federal agencies and
review procurement and contracting issues.
While the meeting continued on Thursday with
participation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the week was packed with
productive face-to-face exchanges.
- AGC signed a renewed partnering agreement with Naval
Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC).
- The Federal Owners Advisory Council discussed the impact
of 3% withholding on their contracting offices and how implementation would
affect their programs. They also discussed the various approaches they were
taking to President Obama’s Executive Order encouraging the consideration of
PLAs on federal government contracts.
- AGC and the Army Corps of Engineers, NAVFAC and the Air
Force met throughout the week to discuss safety, best value contracting,
sustainability, PLAs, Building Information Modeling, and past performance
- AGC and GSA focused on budgetary challenges, CM
At-Risk contracting, and PLA implementation as the agency most aggressively
utilized PLAs on seven of 10 Recovery Act projects.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs session was new to the
conference this year, and the meeting focused on the ways in which AGC and
the Department could partner to help improve its contracting mission.
- AGC's Small Business Forum convened with representatives
from the Small Business Administration and small business representatives from
the major federal construction agencies to discuss the new changes to the 8(a)
program; how to pursue teaming arrangements and joint ventures; and details on
lower tier subcontracting.
- EPA's Office of Water was very pleased with
contractors in general and AGC in particular for the superb execution of
contracts associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. They were
also very thankful for AGC's support and guidance in implementing the Recovery
Act's Buy American provisions for their programs.
- The AGC International Construction Forum tripled its best
attendance record and included discussion on the Bureau of Overseas Buildings
Operations’ new initiative for Design Excellence in Embassy Construction and
the steps they are taking to increase the use of best-value and early
contractor involvement project delivery vehicles.
- Senior Department of Transportation representatives from
the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Transit Administration
(FTA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Federal Railroad
Administration (FRA) briefed participants on their construction budgets for the
coming fiscal year and program highlights. Participants also discussed transportation
reauthorization legislation, procurement issues - in particular the
Construction Management/General Contractor (CMGC) project delivery method.
- Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chairman of the
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, addressed conference
attendees and talked about his plans to review a wide variety of regulatory
policies that are negatively affecting job creation and examining how the Obama
Administration is using the regulatory process to implement policies and may
stifle economic recovery.
During the conference, AGC members launched an all out
offensive on the legislative front with a series of organized Capitol Hill
visits to provide information on repeal of three percent withholding tax,
federal regulations that impact the industry, and the need for multiyear
infrastructure investment authorizations of transportation, federal facilities
and water programs.
For more information, contact Marco
Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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