EPA Urged to Decline California's Diesel Equipment Emissions Standards

Construction companies nationwide will suffer significant financial losses and more construction workers will lose their jobs if the federal government allows California to proceed with plans to impose retroactive emissions standards on diesel construction equipment the AGC of America warned in a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

California’s diesel emission standards are of concern to Washington firms as this state is on a list compiled by AGC of states likely to impose similar retroactive emissions requirements on construction equipment if EPA approves California’s retroactive emissions standards.

“Letting California punish contractors for purchasing equipment that met all emissions standards then in effect would devastate construction employment nationwide far more than it would help the environment” said Stephen E. Sandherr the national construction association’s chief executive officer. “States would be hard pressed to find a better way to undermine the stimulus than forcing contractors to throw away billions in perfectly good equipment.”

Noting that California officials could not have foreseen current economic conditions or the impact they are having on construction emissions Sandherr said the state already has agreed to assess how the economic downturn has changed the situation. He added that until the state completes that assessment it is impossible to know if California’s rule which would cost contractors an estimated $13 billion to implement would have significant environmental benefits. Meanwhile construction employment has declined 17.5 percent statewide in the last twelve months alone.

“With their own governor describing conditions as a ‘state of emergency’ it makes sense to take a step back and reevaluate whether this rule provides the kinds of benefits that will justify its extremely high cost to construction employment” Sandherr said.

Giving California the green light to force contractors to replace diesel equipment would have broad nationwide impacts Sandherr added. According to a new analysis released by the association today 32 states including Washington Arizona Georgia Illinois Maryland New York Pennsylvania and Texas are likely to impose similar retroactive emissions requirements on construction equipment if EPA approves California’s retroactive emissions standards.