ARTBA tells EPA not to give California waiver on off-road diesel retrofitting proposal

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA)  told the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in April 14 testimony that it should not give the state of California a federal waiver that would allow a proposal to require the mandatory retrofitting of off-road diesel construction equipment to move forward.

ARTBA Assistant General Counsel Nick Goldstein testified during the EPA hearing that allowing the waiver would penalize small businesses that operate affected equipment, result in a patchwork approach to regulation that could render construction equipment useable in one state and not another, and ultimately lead to an increase in taxpayer costs on infrastructure projects,

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has asked EPA to grant the authority to require new technology retrofits on all construction equipment — technology not anticipated to be widely available to manufacturers until 2014. Under the federal Clean Air Act (CAA), California has a unique status allowing the state to set stricter air quality regulations than the federal government in certain areas.

Goldstein said that the proposed rule sets impractical application goals because while the retrofitting technology is available on a small scale, a sudden increase in demand caused by the rule would cause limited supplies to be exhausted.

He also said that CARB should further assess the benefits of current emissions regulations which have resulted in a marked improvement in air quality. Goldstein said such a pause would also allow time for manufacturers to develop equipment clean enough and in adequate supply to readily comply with future regulatory requirements.

The ARTBA attorney testified that the EPA must recognize the full impacts of air quality improvements already occurring in California, and around the U.S., as a result of current regulations. He said that a 2006 regulation governing nitric oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) would, when fully implemented, have an effect equivalent to removing 164 million cars from U.S. roadways. He also noted that continued EPA implementation of rules governing heavy-duty truck and bus emissions will result in a 90 percent reduction of exhaust pollution from these vehicles.

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Vehicle retrofitting is a viable option, and one that should continue at a pace supported by supply and demand. “ARTBA looks forward to continuing to work with both EPA and CARB in encouraging voluntary diesel retrofitting at an attainable pace, rather than mandating retrofits at a pace many companies will not be able to meet,” Goldstein said during the hearing.

A copy of ARTBA’s testimony is available under the “regulatory affairs” section of