Amendment would allow states to require lower equipment emissions

Construction companies working on state contracts could be required to use equipment that meets stricter emission reduction requirements if Congress approves the highway and transit funding bill.

An amendment supported by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., gives state agencies authority to ensure emission reduction requirements are considered in the granting of contracts for highway construction.

Under the legislation, the Environmental Protection Agency would develop guidelines for states to use in forming their emission reduction plans in cooperation with contractors. Federal funding in the amount of $11.5 billion would be available to assist in retrofitting equipment and to help implement each state’s requirements.

“Retrofits will play a big role in the emission reduction strategies that are required under this amendment,” Clinton said in a public statement.

Part of the highway bill known as the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act, the amendment is currently being debated in the House. The Senate approved SAFTEA legislation in February, but the bill has stalled due to veto threats from President Bush. While the highway bill would give $318 billion to highway funding over the next six years, the Bush administration has stated it will support nothing more than $275 billion in funding.

In addition to Clinton’s amendment, the final rule for non-road diesel emission requirements is expected to be announced by the EPA next month. According to EPA spokesman John Millett, the final rule has a large scope, but the requirements for construction equipment will probably be very similar to those in the administration’s proposal, published in April 2003. To access that proposal, click on the link to the right.