A proposal from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to tighten ozone standards threatens to put hundreds of communities across America out of compliance with the Clean Air Act (CAA) and, in turn, places federal highway funds for those areas at risk.
That was the message American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Assistant General Counsel & Director of Regulatory Affairs Nick Goldstein delivered at a Jan. 25 EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee hearing on the agency’s proposed regulation. ARTBA was the only construction association to testify.
“Nearly 42,000 people die on U.S. highways each year and many federally-funded highway improvements are designed specifically to address safety issues. As such, imposing new ozone standards that lead to highway improvements being denied could be counterproductive to improving public health,” Goldstein said. “Further, jeopardizing highway funding in new areas through implementation of the EPA’s recommendations is self-defeating and would impose new obstacles for needed transportation improvements that can cut both harmful emissions and billions of dollars in wasted motor fuel caused by traffic congestion.”
Goldstein cited EPA’s own data showing the transportation sector has significantly reduced ozone levels over the past several decades — without tighter federal standards. The decline has occurred despite overwhelming growth in the U.S. economy, population, vehicle miles traveled and energy consumption, he noted.
Recently enacted regulations to reduce sulfur levels in gasoline, and emissions in heavy-duty diesel engines, trucks and highway vehicles will lead to even more improvements in air quality, Goldstein testified. He called on CASAC to take notice of such progress in reducing overall ozone levels before making new public policy decisions which would result in further regulation and delays to critically-needed transportation projects.
For more information, visit www.artba.org.