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AGC to Challenge Calif. Emissions Proposal for Off-Road Diesel Equipment

Thu June 14, 2007 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Seeking to change the rules for off-road diesel equipment already manufactured and sold to the construction industry, the California Air Resource Board (CARB) has proposed to exercise California’s unique authority to require existing fleets of such equipment to reduce their emissions of particulate matter (PM), and in some cases, oxides of nitrogen (NOx).

To meet the new targets, construction contractors would have to retrofit or replace their existing equipment, an effort estimated to cost $13 billion, and to take over 13 years, just in California.

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) has been studying CARB’s proposal for more than a year, and in advance of the agency’s first hearing on the latest draft of its proposal, the association submitted 16 pages of initial comments on the legal standards that California must meet.

In its comments, AGC emphasized that the proposal would sharply cut the value of the existing fleets — wiping out the net worth of many construction companies, depriving them of their bonding capacity, and simultaneously requiring them to make massive capital investments.

Noting that other states would have the option of adopting any new standards that California promulgated, AGC’s Chief Executive Officer Stephen E. Sandherr observed that, “This is a truly national matter, and of great concern to construction contractors throughout the United States.”

Turing to the merits of the proposal, he added that “The government should set emission standards before equipment is manufactured, and sold to end-users, and not after the fact.”

CARB’s new rule would render thousands of pieces of construction equipment worthless unless and until fitted with emission controls that may or may not be available, or repowered with entirely new engines. AGC fears that the proposal would compel many construction contractors to retire equipment long before the end of its useful life, costing workers their jobs and delaying the completion of essential infrastructure improvements.

Going beyond the enormous financial burden that CARB’s proposal would impose on the construction industry, AGC also identified technological barriers to meeting the standards. AGC further explained that CARB has failed to consider reasonable, less costly alternatives that also would improve air quality in California.

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