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EAF Joins Fight Against Equipment Ban in Texas

Sat February 24, 2001 - West Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

The Environmental Action Foundation (EAF) announced its support for a lawsuit which challenges a Texas state agency’s attempt to ban the early-morning operation of construction equipment, and mandate the premature retirement and replacement of construction equipment in and around Houston, TX. The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Texas and the AGC Houston Building Chapter are joining the local construction trade associations’ challenge to the construction ban and mandatory fleet turnover.

“The solutions proposed by the state implementation plan do not improve the environment, protect worker safety or promote positive environmental solutions,” stated Ralph Johnson, chairman, Environmental Action Foundation. “These are just two of the reasons the Environmental Action Foundation is supporting this legal challenge.”

Last December, the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC) — the agency in Texas charged with developing and implementing plans to meet air quality standards — issued a rule to curtail the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds in the Houston area. The agency’s plan, however, requires construction contractors in an eight-county Houston-Galveston region to delay most construction operations until noon during certain months of the year, beginning in 2005. The rule also requires those contractors to purchase new equipment with emission reducing technology, starting in December 2004.

On January 19, stakeholders filed a lawsuit challenging TNRCC’s authority under state and federal law to adopt the air pollution rule. The complaint argues that the construction ban does not eliminate harmful air emissions, but simply changes the timing of the discharge, which is not the ultimate goal of the Clean Air Act. The AGC also disputes the ability of the agency to force construction companies to purchase new equipment, stating that engine manufacturers are the entities the agency should be regulating.

“The broader implications of the implementation plan could be harmful to construction workers and the industry,” stated Johnson. “For example, work zone safety could be compromised by the regulation, and requiring specific engine standards for the one state could lead to many different state standards, causing problems for contractors working across state lines.”

For more information, call 703/837-5360.

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