AGC Bristles at CARB's Answer on Emissions Rule
The California Air Resources Board has decided not to delay the March 1 compliance deadline of its regulation limiting emissions by off-road diesel equipment, which Associated General Contractors, a big construction trade association, warns will be painful for builders in the state.
Associated General Contractors of America, one of the largest trade associations for companies in the U.S. construction industry, hoped to win a two-year delay in the California Air Resources Board’s March 1 compliance deadline for a regulation limiting emissions by off-road diesel equipment. But CARB's executive officer, James N. Goldstene, announced Feb. 11 that no such delay will be granted. The relief CARB has granted – no enforcement action will be taken for non-compliance for now, and a March 11 hearing will allow stakeholders to testify about whether the regulations should be further changed – did not please AGC.
Mike Kennedy, AGC's general counsel, issued a statement Feb. 12 in response: "We appreciate the opportunity to publicly air our concerns and expect Board officials will ultimately agree to significant changes to their off-road diesel rule. However, yesterday's decision to 'delay' enforcement of the rule until a federal waiver is issued is as legally meaningless as it is economically damaging. By committing to begin enforcement as soon as the federal government allows, the Board is only acknowledging legal reality, not providing relief. The state's own inventory data makes clear that off-road equipment operators will be well under the state's aggressive diesel emissions limits for years to come without this rule. Meanwhile, the decision to enforce the rule as soon as legally possible sends a chilling message to a construction industry that has lost over 116,000 jobs statewide this past year. Despite their acknowledgment that this rule will cripple the state's construction community, California officials seem more interested in providing meaningless gestures than they are in providing any relief from a rule whose only outcome will be to kill jobs. We intend to ask the members of the state Air Resources Board, which oversees the agency's activities, to immediately provide relief for thousands of construction workers from this unneeded rule."
Goldstene's announcement said CARB is conscious of the construction industry’s difficulties. "Over the last several years, the construction industry has felt the sting of the faltering economy with reduced activity and idled off-road equipment. This has made it difficult for contractors to pay for required clean-air upgrades to their fleets. Along with this reduced construction activity has been a corresponding reduction in construction emissions," it said. The statement then described the relief being granted and concluded: "ARB will continue to evaluate the impact of the recession on emissions from all sources and make adjustments to our regulations as needed. However, the health of all Californians requires that all industries continue to use the cleanest, most efficient equipment possible. Clean air is not a luxury –- it is a right. We need to continue to work toward goals that save us all money in healthcare costs, lost work and school days, and contribute to our quality of life."
CARB adopted the regulations on April 4, 2008. They are intended to reduce nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and diesel exhaust emissions. AGC asked for an emergency stay of the regulations on Jan. 11, 2010.