Washington, D.C. – A controversial proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would allow states to restrict or ban certain heavy construction equipment under the Clean Air Act has resulted in a lawsuit by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association. The association’s Transportation Development Legal Advocacy & Education Center (TDLAEC) has sued the federal agency to prevent a final determination.

TDLAEC said that authorization of state preemption of the Clean Air Act could render billions of dollars of construction equipment unusable, requiring contractors to purchase new or retrofitted equipment, and result in conflicting state-by-state regulations affecting transportation construction, as well as a marked increase in the costs of infrastructure.

“Whether it’s building or maintaining public transit, high-speed rail, interstate highways, city streets or bridges, every element of our transportation infrastructure network relies on heavy equipment,” said Nick Goldstein, assistant general counsel. “Amidst an economic recession, we should be taking every step to maximize the return on public infrastructure investment. Permitting a hodge-podge of state rules, many far more restrictive and costly than others, complicates the ability of our industry to reduce congestion, improve infrastructure and add new transit, roads and bridge capacity.”

Due to the enormous cost of replacing the affected construction equipment, in some cases more than US$1 million per machine, the cost of vital transportation and infrastructure projects will increase if the EPA does not act to prevent states from enacting individual controls, the association’s brief said.

The EPA is contesting the litigation in conjunction with the National Resources Defense Council, the California Air Resources Board, South Coast Air Quality Management District, and the American Association of Railroads. A decision could come by late 2009 or early 2010.

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