Stricter particulate matter soot standards could hinder transportation improvements

Stricter standards for particulate matter (PM) or soot proposed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could endanger transportation improvements by placing federal highway funds in jeopardy, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) told members of Congress on June 28. 

Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Marc Herbst, executive director of the Long Island Contractors’ Association (LICA) and chairman of ARTBA’s Council of State Executives, explained that EPA’s proposed new standards come at a time when counties are still struggling to comply with existing regulations. 

The proposed regulation “creates a counterproductive cycle where new standards delay needed improvements to the nation’s highway and bridge network, which has already reached ‘critical mass’ in terms of being able to serve the needs of our citizens and economy,” Herbst explained.

He went on to describe the impact of EPA’s proposal noting, “States and counties need predictability and time to develop transportation plans which achieve PM reduction and create jobs. Adding a new layer of requirements on top of existing standards that have not been fully implemented only complicates these ongoing efforts. Specifically, existing projects deemed to be in compliance with the Clean Air Act when first undertaken could be thrown out of compliance if new standards are approved, exposing project owners to costly, time-consuming litigation.”

Herbst also explained how EPA’s actions are counterproductive to current efforts to reauthorize the federal surface transportation program, saying, “It is ironic that members of both chambers and parties have made streamlining the environmental review and approval process for transportation projects a priority of the transportation bill, yet few talk about how EPA’s PM proposal will severely disrupt the very process they are trying to make more effective.”

Today’s testimony builds on many years’ worth of regulatory comments, legislative efforts and litigation by ARTBA on the subject of EPA Clean Air Act standards. ARTBA will continue to work towards a regulatory system that allows the nation to make progress towards cleaner air without sacrificing the ability to pursue desperately needed transportation improvements vital to our economy, public health and safety.

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For 20 years, ARTBA has been the transportation design and construction industry’s primary regulatory advocate.  In just the past five years alone, ARTBA has presented the industry’s views to federal agencies more than 100 times on a variety of issues. 

The full text of ARTBA’s oral and written testimony can be found in the “regulatory affairs” section of